Greatest All-Time Starting 5: New York Knicks
Here at Off the Glass we’re taking on the arduous task of going through every NBA teams’ greatest possible starting five, using players that have played for that franchise. A player at each position (Point Guard through Center) will be selected, along with a 6th man who can be any position.
This is how it works:
Players selected must have played at least two full seasons for the franchise
The selection will be based on a combination of statistics, accomplishments/accolades and their significance to the franchise in question
Players had to have predominantly played at that particular position for at least one season to be eligible
Let’s get started.
New York Knicks
*Photo via Slam Online
Point Guard – Walt Frazier: Walt Frazier is arguably the greatest New York Knick of all-time, and given their recent lack of talent at the point guard position, this was an easy pick. Although he was a ball-dominant guard, Frazier had a knack for finding open teammates as well as lighting up the scoreboard at his own hand. During his 10 year career with the Knicks, Frazier posted averages of 18.1 PPG and 5.7 APG. His numbers are slightly diluted due to the level of talent on those early 70s Knick squads, but they are impressive none the less. Frazier delivered 2 NBA championships to New York and may also have claim to the greatest NBA Finals Game 7 performance of all-time. The game was mostly remembered for Willis Reed’s heroic return from injury, but it was Frazier’s 36 points and 19 assists that made the difference.
Shooting Guard – Earl Monroe: Although he played his best individual basketball with the Baltimore Bullets, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe will always be better known for the electric backcourt pairing that he created with Walt Frazier. When Monroe was traded to the Knicks during the 1971-72 season, there were grumblings that Frazier and Monroe couldn’t co-exist due to their similar styles of play. After a slow start, they managed to created one of the most effective backcourt tandems of all time. Monroe was a silky scorer who could also take on some of the playmaking duties as well. His unselfishness in New York only punctuated his greatness, and 1973 it paid off when a star-studded Knicks team won another NBA Championship.
Small Forward – Bernard King: Before a horrific knee injury in 1985, King was one of the top players in the NBA. That injury would go on to cost King the prime years of his career, and ultimately his Knicks career. Although King only managed to lead the Knicks to the playoffs on two occasions, their 1984 post-season will be remember as one of the most memorable runs in recent Knicks history. King led the Knicks past Isaiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons in the first round averaging 42.6 PPG. In the next round they fell to the eventual champion Boston Celtics in a tightly contested 7 game series that saw King average 29 PPG on 52% shooting.
Power Forward – Carmelo Anthony: This pick will likely split people. Yes, this easily could have been Dave DeBusschere, but Carmelo might be the greatest pure scorer to ever wear a New York Knicks uniform. Furthermore, even though he is widely criticized for a lack of efficiency, Carmelo actually is the Knicks all-time leader in player efficiency rating. Although team accomplishments have eluded him during his time with New York, I can’t help but feel as though it has more to do with the Knicks front office than with Carmelo himself. In any case, no list of all-time great Knicks is complete without the man who dropped a record-setting 62 points in the Mecca of Basketball, MSG.
Center – Patrick Ewing: A lot of people would like to put Willis Reed in this spot, but I am not going to punish Ewing for the era in which he played in. Based on talent alone, it is clear Ewing was the superior player. He put up better numbers against better competition, and didn’t have nearly the supporting case that Reed could boast. Ewing was dynamic offensively and a VASTLY underrated defender. The lack of championship hardware isn’t enough for me to keep Ewing off this list, and who knows – maybe if Michael Jordan had stuck to baseball, there would be a few extra banners hanging in the rafters at the Garden.
6th Man – Willis Reed: Along with Walt Frazier, Willis Reed helped the Knicks to two NBA Championships in the early 1970s. Undersized and matching up with behemoths like Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Reed used a no nonsense, tough-nosed brand of basketball to grind out wins. Regarded by many as the greatest Knicks leader of all-time, Reed embodied the New York style of basketball and his game reflected the culture of New York City. This was never more apparent than during the 1970 NBA Finals. After sustaining an injury in Game 5 and missing Game 6, it was expected that Reed would also miss Game 7, all but ensuring a championship win for the Lakers. However, right before tip-off, Willis Reed limped out from the locker room to a frenzied Knicks crowd. He miraculously beat Wilt Chamberlain on the jump ball, scored the first basket of the game, and the rest became history as the Knicks managed to win the game and the series.
Did I miss any of your favorite Raptors? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @awrxshxx