Hubert Davis wishes he could've played his 'entire career' with Knicks, will bring North Carolina back to MSG after dramatic win | Zagsblog
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Thursday / June 20.
  • Hubert Davis wishes he could’ve played his ‘entire career’ with Knicks, will bring North Carolina back to MSG after dramatic win

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    NEW YORK — Hubert Davis played dozens and dozens of games at Madison Square Garden during his tenure with the Knicks in the early 1990s, but he had never coached there until bringing his North Carolina team into the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday.

    The Tar Heels hadn’t played at the Garden in 12 years before beating Ohio State, 89-84 in overtime, in one of the most exciting college games of the season.

    “Walking back into the Garden, I feel…it’s home,” Davis said. “I love New York. I love the Garden, and I wish I could play my entire career here. I just love this place.”

    None of Davis’s players had played at the Garden before, including White Plains, N.Y. native RJ Davis who played at Archbishop Stepinac.

    “I mean, it means a lot, I couldn’t lose in my own city,” Davis said after putting up 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, including a game-tying basket and a go-ahead 3-pointer in the second half. “Just to come back here and get a win in the bigtime, it’s the Garden. I love playing here, I love watching the game ever since I was a kid. It’s the mecca, it’s where basketball is made.”

    Northwestern Pete Nance forced overtime with a play designed by assistant coach Jeff Lebo in which Nance took an inbounds pass from Leaky Black and hit a turnaround jumper to tie game at 79 in the final seconds of regulation. Carolina then out-scored Ohio State, 10-5, in the extra period.

    Hubert Davis, who led the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game last season in his first season as coach, received a video message during the game from former Knicks guard John Starks. He said he had prepared his team by showing them some clips of his glory days playing alongside Patrick Ewing with the Knicks. Ewing is also coaching high-major basketball now with Georgetown.

    “I showed them my rookie year when we played against the Phoenix Suns, and they set that screen on Doc Rivers and [there was] an all-out brawl,” Davis said. “Then I showed them in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls with Derek Harper, and I think it was Jo Jo — I can’t remember who it was from the Bulls. It was all-out brawl in the stands.

    “I told them, I don’t want you to get into a brawl, but I just wanted to let you know the experience that I had here at New York and the unbelievable teammates that I had that taught me so much about basketball and off the court, and one of those guys was John Starks. I couldn’t have asked to be drafted and spend the first four years of my NBA career with anybody different than John and Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley and be coached by guys like Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy. It’s an unbelievable experience.”

    North Carolina big man Armando Bacot, one of four returning starters to a team that began the year as the preseason No. 1 but then lost four straight and dropped out of the AP poll, raved about his first game at the Garden.

    “It was great,” he said after putting up 28 points and 15 rebounds in the win. “The atmosphere out there, it’s like something, as a kid, you look and see all the historical games at the Garden, and I think this game could go down as one of those too.

    “Shout-out to the fans. Probably 15,000 or 16,000 Carolina fans, and seeing all the white and Carolina Blue, that really gave us a bump. They were all into it. My hat’s off to our fans.”

    Duke has long had big crowd support at the Garden, but Davis wants in on the action, too.

    He said he plans to bring the Tar Heels back to the Garden on a consistent basis, including to the Jimmy V Classic next December.

    “We’re playing in the Jimmy V Classic,” he said. “As long as I’m the head coach at North Carolina, we’ll always have a presence here in the Garden. This is home for us.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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