Allan Wade Houston (born April 20 1971, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA) is a former professional basketball player who spent the majority of his career playing shooting guard for the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks. His nickname is "H2O", derived from the first letter of his name and his regular number "20", but also a reference to his graceful jump shot, which is said to be "smooth as water".

Early life

Houston played at Ballard High School in Louisville, helping them to win the 1988 Kentucky state championship. He went on to play at the University of Tennessee and graduated in 1993 as the school's all-time leading scorer.

NBA career

Houston was drafted 11th overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1993 NBA Draft, and averaged 8.5 points per game in his rookie year. His average was boosted to 14.5 and 19.7 points per game in the next two years.

On July 14 1996 Houston signed as a free agent with the Knicks, where he played for the next nine seasons. In his first year as a Knick, Houston took the place of John Starks in the starting lineup, however Starks was a valuable mentor for him coming off of the bench. Houston kept his scoring average at a consistent 17-point-or-so per-game clip, and led his team to the 1999 NBA Finals. He made the All-Star team in 2000 and 2001.

Despite the accolades, though, Houston's lasting legacy may involve something that didn't even happen on the court: in 2001, Houston signed a maximum contract extension with the Knicks -- a move that proved to be a fairly damning mistake for New York, because it cut deeply into the Knicks' already-grim salary cap situation and prevented them from making any free agent moves as their team spiraled into mediocrity. Also, his yearly salary cap hit (over $20 million) made him virtually untradeable. The contract was seen as particularly exorbitant because Houston was considered by many to be a very one-dimensional player -- he was primarily a spot-up jump shooter throughout his career, never showing much willingness to attack the basket on drives, distribute the ball, rebound, or play defense.

In addition, injury problems made his contract look even worse. Houston missed 32 games in 2003-04 due to a knee injury, and despite claims in the summer of 2004 that he would be ready to play the next season (he even refused to have surgery on his knee that summer), he played in only 20 games in the 2004-05 season because his injury hadn't completely healed. The knee injury would eventually force Houston to announce his retirement, on October 17, 2005. Despite his retirement, Houston's $19,125,000 salary still counted against the Knicks' cap in 2005-06.

Even when considering the contract, though, Houston still must be remembered as one of the most prolific scorers ever to suit up for the Knicks, and his last-second bank-shot in the deciding game of the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat remains a famous moment in Knicks history (especially given that the Knicks went on to make the NBA Finals). Houston also ranks 10th on the NBA's all-time list for career 3-point field goals made.

"Allan Houston Rule"

In 2005, the NBA agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The most striking innovation grants NBA teams a one-time exception to waive a player without paying any further luxury tax on the player's contract, regardless of how long or how rich the contract was.

This rule benefitted teams who had run into serious long-term salary cap problems. The correct term is "amnesty clause", but because the team with the worst problems were the Knicks and their worst financial liability was Houston, it was quickly dubbed "Allan Houston Rule". Ironically, the Knicks chose not to use the rule on him, but on forward Jerome Williams instead, because the Knicks correctly predicted Houston would retire due to lingering injuries over his last two seasons. As result, Houston made $40 million for the last two years of his contract even though he did not participate in any games for the Knicks.

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