Who Is The Greatest New York Knick Ever?
One of the most iconic franchises in all of sports, New York’s very own NBA Franchise, while it may not have had great success in terms of winning, has had its fair share of amazing stars. There are the obvious names that come to mind such as Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, and Willis Reed, but have there been some guys who went under the radar in all time rankings that we may not think of?
In their franchise history, the Knicks have had 95 total all-star selections, dating back to 1951 when Vince Boryla, Harry Gallatin and Dick McGuire were all selected, with the most recent being Carmelo Anthony in 2017. The Knicks with the most all-star appearances are Patrick Ewing (11), Willis Reed (7), Harry Gallatin (7), and Walt “Clyde” Frazier (7), with Carmelo Anthony and Richie Guerin not too far behind with 6 of their own. But, we’re not measuring number of all star selections, we’re seeing who was the best player and had the most impact while playing on the Knicks, however all star appearances will help us out, and I think those 6 guys will be our top 6 candidates.
Let’s start with the guy on the list who has the most accolades under his belt, Willis Reed. Willis was the 1970 NBA MVP, as well as the 1970 All Star Game MVP and the 1970 and 1973 Finals MVP. Willis only lasted about 10 seasons in the league, as he struggled with injuries in his last 3 years in the league until he decided to pack it all in. During his “prime” (his 7 all-star years), Willis averaged 20.1 points per game to go along with an astonishing 13.8 rebounds per game from the 1965 season to the 1971 season. Even though he was undersized, Willis was a dominant big man, able to score down low in the post or step outside to hit a mid range jump shot, Willis was a top-tier 2 way center for 7 years and carried us to 2 titles along with his partner in crime, Walt Frazier.
Speaking of Walt “Clyde” Frazier, he was a 7 time all-star while playing in the big apple, and not only was he one of the greatest defensive players of all time, but he was also a prolific scoring, having 6 seasons in New York averaging 20 or more points per game. He was also a pretty good playmaker, in an era where stack keepers were very strict on how they ruled assists, Clyde averaged around 6 assists per game in his tenure in New York, with his career high being 8.2 assists per game. It should also be noted that Walt wasn’t a bad rebounder, in all his years as a Knick he averaged 6.1 rebounds per game, getting as many as 7.3 rebounds per game in 1973. Walt Frazier also had an insane game 7 in the 1970 NBA finals, scoring 36 points, dishing out 19 dimes and grabbing 7 rebounds, shooting 12/17 (71%) from the field, to help carry the Knicks to a victory. Walt had averaged 17.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game that series, to take down a Lakers team that consisted of Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor.
Next, we have Harry Gallatin. A 7 time all-star, Harry Gallatin was a double double machine. He played for the Knicks since they were a BAA team in 1949-1957, his last all star year, and he would go on to retire just 1 year after to play in Detroit. Harry led the league in rebounds in 1954, averaging 15.3 rebounds per game. His best scoring season was in 1957, his last year with the Knicks, where he averaged 15 points per game. Due to him never being an amazing scorer, and the fact that he never shot 45% from the field, and his era, I do not think he is the greatest Knick of all time.
Next, we have one of the greatest scorers in Knick history, Richie Guerin. Guerin played for the Knicks from 1957 to 1964, and was a 6 time all-star in that span. RIchie’s best season came in 1962, when he averaged 29.5 points per game as a 6’4 shooting guard, in an era dominated by big men. As a Knick, Richie averaged 20.1 points per game, and had 4 seasons of averaging over 20 points per game. Due to the fact the Knicks only made the playoffs once during his career, and a lack of longevity with the Knicks, I think we can eliminate Richie as the greatest Knick ever.
Let’s now talk about Carmelo Anthony. The most recent Knick all-star, Melo gave us 6 and a half years of all star ball. As a Knick, Melo averaged 24.7 points per game, to go along with 7 rebounds per game. Melo also had 2 near MVP seasons in 2013, where he averaged 28.7 points and 69 rebounds per game, and 2014, where he averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Carmelo received a lot of hate while in New York for never being able to lead us very far in the playoffs, but truth be told one man cannot carry a team, Melo never had much help around him, as his best teammates were constantly getting injured. In 2013, Melo had averaged 28.8 points per game in the playoffs as a whole, including taking the Pacers, who had a much more well-rounded roster, to 6 games, where he averaged 28.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in that series. Melo had carried the franchise on his back for 6 and a half years, and is a true Knicks legend.
Finally, we have Patrick Ewing, after we talk about him we will find out who really is the greatest Knick of all time. Ewing was a Knick for 15 seasons, being an all-star in 11 of them. As a Knick, Ewing averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1 steal per game. Ewing started in all 1,039 games he played in as a Knick, and absolutely dominated in every single one. Even in his rookie season, where he averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks per game, Patrick Ewing was the best Knick on the court. Ewing made the all NBA first team once, and the all NBA second team 6 times, along with 3 all defensive 2nd team selections. Ewing’s best season came in 1990, where he averaged 28.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and an astonishing 4.0 blocks per game, while shooting 55% from the field. The Knicks made the playoffs in 13 out of the 15 seasons Ewing was a Knick, and he made 2 NBA finals appearances in 1994 and 1999, however he did not play in the 99 finals due to injuries. In the 1994 finals, Ewing had averaged 18.9 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game, so although he wasn’t very efficient offensively, Ewing was a defensive anchor for New York in the 94 finals. Ewing has received the reputation as someone who is not clutch, as he has one of the most famous missed layups in NBA history, and he also did have a reputation of getting dunked on, but Ewing was a true Knicks great.
Well, now it’s time to decide, who was the greatest Knick of all time? It comes down to the only MVP in Knicks history, Willis Reed, to his partner in crime, Walt Frazier, to one of, if not the greatest isolation scorer in NBA history, Carmelo Anthony, to one of the best players of the 90’s, Patrick Ewing. While Carmelo and Ewing aren’t champions like Walt and Willis, I think they both put up better numbers during the season, however, both Melo and Ewing did earn reputations as guys who couldn’t carry their team to championships, yet they played in much more competitive eras. Personally, I think it’s really close between the 4. And even though Walt Frazier recently said during an MSG broadcast that Willis Reed is the greatest Knick of all time, I think I’m going to side with Mike Breen in saying Patrick Ewing. Ewing’s long tenure with the Knicks, as well as being an amazing scorer, rim protector, rebounder, and just a smart player all around, as well as putting the Knicks back on the map in the 80’s and 90’s, he just is the best and did the most for the franchise.
All the stats, facts and accolades are via basketball-reference.com. I hope you all enjoyed this article, let me know what I should write about next time, and follow me on Twitter at @RisKOutlawS, especially if you want to talk some ball! Also follow @247_sportstalk on Twitter to see all of the articles published on our site.