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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 New York Knicks of All Time: Ewing, King, Clyde and More!

Top 10 New York Knicks of All Time: Ewing, King, Clyde and More!

The Top 9 Knicks of all time!
Publish Date: 03/08/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

No current players are eligible for this list. The New York Knicks have a winning tradition but most of that tradition came in the early 1970s and the Patrick Ewing era. I know they don’t have many Championships, but they have had an interesting group of players nonetheless.

Criteria

Winning helps which means most guys on this list are from the 1970s or 1990s. Stats, awards and records, as always, matter also. The Knicks may not have a ton of Championships but their list includes some all-time great players.

10) Charles Oakley

Charles Oakley stands out as an unsung hero on this list and will help define the best Knicks players of all time and their most significant counterparts. Many below fit into both categories; those on top scoring points, dishing assists, or winning individual awards may qualify as “best” or “greatest.”

On this list of great Knicks players, not everything needs to be flashy—Charles Oakley is an example.

Oakley earned multiple All-Star selections and two All-Defensive teams during his time playing for the New York Knicks from 1999 through 2004, as well as an average of 10.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game over that span. But his true value cannot be measured through statistics alone; rather, it lies in what Oakley brought to each Knicks game he and other hardened competitors such as Anthony Mason gave to make them great teams on the court.

9) Allan Houston

Allan Houston didn’t reach Broadway until his fourth year, yet when he arrived there, he made every opportunity count for maximum effect.

Houston made his mark during a difficult period for both the Knicks and the NBA. Houston provided bright spots on some drab days on the Hudson River.

Houston was selected 11th overall in 1993 and averaged 18.5 points per game while shooting 39.9% from three-point range for the Knicks during his tenure there. Had today’s NBA been different, Houston would likely have been seen as an outstanding talent; nevertheless, even during its slower-paced late 90s/early 2000s era, he still proved highly effective.

8)Bill Bradley

Today, fans may only know Bill Bradley as an ex-U.S. senator, but before then, he was an integral component of two Knicks championship teams in the early 1970s.

Bradley wasn’t simply an option for Red Holzman; he was an exceptional player. Over his ten seasons as one of the Knicks’ best players of his era, Bradley averaged over 30 minutes per game while participating in at least 78 games seven times, additionally averaging 12.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds on an average day.

Championship wins helped propel Bradley up these Knicks player rankings, though who knows where he would have ended up if he hadn’t taken two seasons off to pursue a Rhoades Scholarship in Italy.

 

7)Bernard King

Before Carmelo Anthony came along, there was Bernard King. Though not an all-around Knicks player himself, Bernard could put the ball in the basket like few NBA players could. His defense may have been less-than-stellar at times – yet none could match Bernard for his ability to put shots away.

King only played four seasons at Madison Square Garden, but they were certainly memorable ones.

King is remembered fondly both as a Washington Bullet and Knickerbocker. He made two All-Star squads and won his scoring title in 1984-85 with an average of 32.9 points per game. King earned this position on this greatest Kicks players list.

Overall, King averaged more points per game with New York (26.5) than any other team during his career. He contributed 2.8 assists and 5.2 boards while playing under Hubie Brown; both times his teams made the playoffs. King is considered one of the best NBA players of the 1980s!

6) Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony and Bernard King may seem similar at first glance, but when viewed over their time with the Knicks, Anthony outshines King in terms of all-around play and longevity.

Anthony led his Knicks into three playoff appearances at a team level but only managed to claim one playoff series victory during his seven years in New York. On average, he scored 24.7 points, 3.2 assists, and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range.

Like King, Anthony won one scoring title with the Knicks (2012-23, 28.7 points per game). Melo was an All-Star every year and twice made it onto All-NBA teams.

5)Dave DeBuschere

DeBusschere is one of four players on this list — along with Bill Bradley and two players below — who won two championships with New York in 1970 and 1973.

The Detroit native was a three-time All-Star after he made it to Manhattan. He ultimately split his career evenly between the two teams, though, playing 440 games for the Pistons and 435 for the Knicks.

DeBusschere averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 assists, and 10.7 rebounds in New York. He made five All-Star teams, and all five of his NBA All-Defensive Team nods came with the Knicks as well.

4)Earl Monroe

Earl Monroe is widely considered one of the greatest guards in NBA history and played on theWillis Reed and Walt Frazier teams that won the title in 1973. Although you could argue where his place falls among his colleagues on both championship teams, Earl stands alone with one championship compared to two from them, placing him fourth on these greatest Knicks player rankings.

“The Pearl” made two All-Star teams during his nine NBA seasons at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza and averaged 19.9 points, 1.2 steals, and 4.3 assists per game there. He also created his iconic I-95 (from Philadelphia) playground style, which defined an era for both Knicks basketball and New York culture.

Monroe helped form a legendary backcourt alongside Frazier, inspiring an entire generation of flashy point guards, yet none could match Monroe as the Knicks’ “Black Jesus”.

3)Willis Reed

Madison Square Garden has witnessed many iconic sporting events over its long history, from Ali vs. Frazier to WrestleMania I and the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup. But few events were more electrifying for MSG fans than when its original Captain (sorry Derek Jeter!) took to the court with an injured leg during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals Finals series.

Reed played all 10 NBA seasons for New York and won multiple awards, such as Rookie of the Year (1964-65), MVP (1969-7o) and Finals MVP Awards both times he appeared. Additionally, he appeared in seven All-Star Games, five All-NBA teams, and an All-Defensive squad.

At 6-foot-10, David Lee stands as one of the greatest Knicks players ever and can easily rank among your top two or three favorites. No one will dispute this decision!

2)Patrick Ewing

As many players on this Knicks player rankings list earned championship rings, we cannot fault Patrick Ewing because he played alongside Michael Jeffrey Jordan (and Hakeem Olajuwon). Ewing is considered one of the best Centers in NBA History!

When looking at the Knicks’ history, Ewing stands out. During his tenure in NYC, he averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game.

These numbers established him as the franchise career leader in terms of games and minutes played. Field goals, field goal attempts, 2-point field goals, 2-point field goal attempts, field goal misses, free throws attempted and missed, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, steals blocks turnovers, personal fouls blocks per game, win shares defensive win shares, win shares per game as well as points.

The 1985 NBA Draft’s No. 1 pick may have arrived via frozen envelope, but he became one of the greatest Knicks players of all time.

1)Walt Frazier

Frazier is the most significant point guard in Knicks history, and he did it with unmatched style and flair. In the Knicks championship 1969-70 season, Frazier’s third NBA campaign, the point guard out of Southern Illinois averaged 21 points, eight assists, and six rebounds over 77 games. It was one of the best single-game performances in NBA history!

Frazier led Knicks teams to the finals, and what sets him apart from guys like Ewing is he won the damn thing! Everybody remembers Willis Reed in Game 7, but Frazier was the difference as Frazier stole the show and won the title. He scored 36, dished 19 assists, and grabbed seven boards as the Knicks won their first NBA Finals in franchise history.

Honorable mentions

Richie Guerin

Guerin is largely forgotten, but he was a terrific player in his time. During his tenure with the Knicks, Guerin averaged 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Mark Jackson

Jackson was drafted in the first round in 1987 and won the Rookie of the Year award. He was a fiery defensive player and team leader. Jackson was at his best playing under Rick Pitino and when Pitino left, Jackson’s production dramatically dropped.

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