Monday, July 19, 2010
New York Knicks: NBA All-Time Starting Fives
However, I’ve lived in Manhattan for the last 5+ years, during which I’ve had an opportunity to observe up close the Knicks’ relationship with the city, and I must say it’s fascinating and frankly difficult not to root for. While the Knicks are pretty much irrelevant to today’s NBA landscape, the franchise’s glory days fortuitously fell in the Yankees’ post-Mantle, pre-Reggie days, capturing a generation of fans. To hear true Knicks fans (not the media!) relive experiences with their team – and not just in the best of times – is to realize that there’s something special here. If you ever get the opportunity, as an older Knick fan about Walt Frazier, Micheal Ray, Bernard King or young Ewing. While the Knicks’ glory days as far, far in the rearview, I find myself rooting for a Knicks’ renaissance because, man, I wanna see what this town’s like when the Knicks are good!
PG– Walt Frazier (19.3 ppg, 49.2% FG, 78.3% FT, 6.1 rpg, 6.3 apg in 759 games)
While there could only be one choice for this spot, Knick have some talented guys running the point in the years since Frazier’s departure. In 300+ games in the late-1970s and early-1980s, Micheal Ray Richardson 14.2- 6- 7.1 with 2.6 steals. A few years later, Mark Jackson – Brooklyn-born and a quintessential NYC PG – won the 1988 Rookie of the Year award as a Knick, averaged a solid 11.1 ppg and 8 apg and quarterbacked the first two 50-win teams (and division winners) of the Patrick Ewing era. Jackson’s ranks as the best non-Clyde PG in Knicks history. Finally, we have Stephon Marbury, who stacks up well statistically, but it’s no contest. Frazier scores an easy victory, as he’s got team success and iconic status in New York, while Steph, well, doesn’t.
SG – Richie Guerin (20.1 ppg, 41.1% FG, 77.8% FT, 6.4 rpg, 5.3 apg in 516 games)
While his teams didn’t enjoy a great deal of success, Guerin statistically outperformed scoring guards from the Knicks’ brighter days. He still owns the highest scoring average among guards in Knicks’ history, along with better rebounding and assist numbers than Houston (18.1- 3.1- 2.5), Sprewell (17.9- 4.1- 3.8) and Earl Monroe (16.2- 2.6- 3.5 – I know he was on the downside, but I really expected Monroe’s numbers to be better).
SF– Bernard King (26.5 ppg, 54.3% FG, 76.1% FT, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.2 spg in 206 games)
King led the NBA in scoring in 1985 with 32.9 points per game and was selected twice to the All-NBA First Team and three times to the NBA All-Star Game.
In January 1984, King became the first player in 20 years to score 50+ in consecutive games, (50 each on January 30 & 31, 1984, v. Spurs and Mavericks). Eleven months later, on Christmas Day 1984 at The Garden, Bernard torched the Nets for franchise-record 60 points. As breathtaking as he was in the regular season – and despite only modest team success – it was in the 1984 playoffs that King catapulted himself to the rarified status he still hold today in NYC. In a dozen postseason games, King averaged just under 35 ppg, and his 5-game Round 1 duel against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in which he averaged 42.6 ppg remains must-see TV for any NBA fan.
PF – Dave DeBusschere (16.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3.1 apg in 435 games)
C- Willis Reed (18.7 ppg, 47.6% FG, 74.7% FT, 12.9 rpg in 650 games)
That’s quite the resume, right? How, then, is this a tough decision? Because with a twist of fate (a Michael Jordan sprained ankle or a Game 7 John Starks jumper), Patrick Ewing would have a place in the Reed-Frazier-DeBusschere pantheon. While Willis Reed most famously played with pain, halfway through his career Ewing’s knees had started to go and would never be the same. Patrick Ewing was the superior offensive player (22.8 ppg, 50.8% FG), both in terms of skills set and stats, but thanks to his leadership, team success – and maybe a twist of fate – earned him this spot.