The Madison Square Garden Company and the NY Knicks announced the name of the new D-League team as the Westchester Knicks and displayed their new logo on May 14. On October 8, they hired Kevin Whitted as their inaugural Head Coach.
Presently, the Westchester Knicks are off and running and exciting fans at the Westchester County Center. The Westchester Knicks had a festive event for their inaugural Home Opener at the Westchester County Center on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino made his way into the arena, as did Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett. “I am excited. We negotiated for about six months on a contract that was favorable to both sides; we wanted to do it and the Knicks wanted to do it and we just said let’s get it done and we did,” said Astorino, who spearheaded the process to bring the Westchester Knicks to the County Center.
“This is the accumulation of a lot of hard work by a lot of good people. This is the start of something hopefully really great for a really longtime,” Astorino continued as he greeted fans walking into the County Center. “People are going to see really great basketball here tonight. This is high quality basketball at a very affordable price.”The Westchester Knicks Home Opener was a showcase event with the Westchester Knicks City Dancers exciting the crowd. MSG Company Executive Chairman James L. Dolan sat courtside with Tad Smith, the President and CEO of the MSG Company and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who were accompanied by Steve Mills, the GM of the NY Knicks and Knicks legend Larry Johnson.
Kathleen O’Connor, the Commissioner of Westchester County Parks and Recreation announced before the game: “We are just thrilled. I was just told by the Ticketmaster Box Office that we are sold out for tonight.” The County Center is presently set up to accommodate 2100 people for Westchester Knicks games.
Also sitting courtside to watch the game was NY Liberty legend Teresa Weatherspoon with her godson Devin Van, who plays football in the White Plains Youth League. “Spoon” as she is affectionately known, presently resides in White Plains. “This is such a great thing for the city, it is a great environment, great basketball and it is just good for the City of White Plains, which is such a wonderful place to live,” said Weatherspoon.
“Spoon” was joined at courtside by St. John’s University legend Felipe Lopez, who presently works for the NY Knicks. Lopez attended the game to support the Knicks organization and to encourage his fellow Red Storm alumnus Orlando Sanchez, who made the opening night roster of the Westchester Knicks.
The Knicks had a gala event for their inaugural Home Opener at the Westchester County Center. The only thing they could not produce was an Opening Night victory. The young Knicks were defeated by the Canton Charge by one point, 86-85. “It is tough, but it is a learning experience,” commented the Westchester Knicks inaugural Head Coach Whitted. “We started off playing very well and then as the game progressed we got a little stagnant and got a little lost out there as far as executing.”
The Westchester Knicks started their inaugural season, 0-2, while also losing their season opener to the Oklahoma City Blue, 91-84, in Oklahoma City, on Nov. 16.
However, after their Home Opener loss, the young Knicks came back to excite fans at the Westchester County Center, by attaining the first victory in franchise history, by beating the Grand Rapids Drive, 97-83, on Friday, Nov. 21.
Westchester Knicks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo had 11 points, six rebounds and six block shots in their first franchise win. Guard Andre Barrett had 13 points and forward Ben Strong added 12 points. Todd Mayo led the way on offense with 20 points, while shooting 6-for-6 from the free throw line. “It was a pretty good game. It feels good to get the win tonight but I wish we could have got it on Opening Night,” said Mayo.
Antetokounmpo was selected as Player of the Game for the Westchester Knicks initial franchise win. “It is not just about me, it is about the team. We got the first win in franchise history and we had great teamwork tonight and that is what defines us,” said Antetokounmpo.