On This Date in Sports February 4, 2003: Downtown Spree

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Latrell Sprewell of the New York Knicks becomes the first player in NBA history to make nine shots from three-point range without a miss. Sprewell scores a game-high 38 points as the Knicks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-92 at Madison Square Garden. The record would be matched by Ben Gordon, who went 9-for-9 from downtown twice. First in 2006 with the Chicago Bulls against the Washington Wizards, then in 2012 with the Detroit Pistons against the Denver Nuggets. 

Born in Milwaukee on September 8, 1970, Latrell Sprewell was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 24th overall pick in the 1992 draft after playing basketball at the University of Alabama. Spree had an impact right away for the Warriors, starting 69 games as a rookie while averaging 15.4 points per game. A year later, playing alongside Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell led the NBA in minutes per game, playing all 82 games, with 23.2 ppg as the Warriors won 50 games but were swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns. After a contract dispute, Webber would be traded after his rookie season, sending the Warriors into the abyss for nearly two decades. Despite the struggles, Latrell Sprewell was the team’s lone bright spot, making the All-Star team three times in four years, culminating in 1997 when he had a career-best 24.2 points per game.

In 1997, Latrell Sprewell's career with the Warriors came to a sudden end when he choked coach P.J. Carlesimo after practice in December. He would be suspended for the remainder of the season. Following the season, Latrell Sprewell was traded to the New York York Knicks for  John Starks, Chris Mills, and Terry Cummings. Spree proved to be a valuable player off the bench for the Knicks in 1999, helping his team get to the NBA Finals. 

Over the next few seasons, Latrell Sprewell became one of the top players on the Knicks. After a disappointing 2001/02 season, the Knicks hoped to rebound in the 2002/03 season, but again were struggling with coach Don Chaney as they sat at 20-26 as they hosted the Los Angeles Clippers in early February. The Clippers were in the midst of an awful season at 17-30 for coach Alvin Gentry who was on the verge of being fired. 

The Knicks were in control of the game from the start, outscoring the Clippers 25-17 in the first quarter. Sprewell who made 14-of-19 shots overall while scoring 38 points, He was playing with a cloud of trade rumors. As the Knicks looking to rebuild were considering trading their top-scorer at the deadline. The Knicks would win easily 105-92. The 9-for-9 performance from three-point range topped the record that was shared by Jeff Hornacek of the Utah Jazz in 1994, Sam Perkins of the Seattle Supersonics in 1997, and Steve Smith of the San Antonio Spurs in 2001. All three were 8-for-8 from three-point range. Sprewell would finish the season in New York as the Knicks missed the playoffs again. Following the season, he would be dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves.