Sometimes it takes longer for some than it does for others but for the most part if you're Hall of Fame worthy you eventually get it. However, for some the wait must seem like forever. Recently, the NBA inducted their 2013 Hall of Fame class into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Two former New York Knicks were accepted into the hallowed halls — Bernard King and Richie Guerin.
The 2013 NBA Hall of Fame class was highlighted by Gary Payton and Bernard King but also included players like Richie Guerin, Roger Brown, Oscar Schmidt and Dawn Staley. Then there was the coaches. The Hall of Fame honored coaches Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis and Sylvia Hatchell. The Hall of Fame also inducted two contributors; Russ Granik and Dr. E.B. Henderson.
While all of these people earned their honors for one reason or another it's the two former New York Knicks who we'll now look at further. First, Bernard King. Younger New York fans know King almost exclusively because of Carmelo Anthony going out of his way to shed light on King's career. However, older fans will recognize King as one of the best Knicks to ever wear blue and orange and one of the few players who might have brought a championship back to Madison Square Garden had his health held up.
King was a dynamic scorer (almost as dynamic as GMENShirts and Gang Green apparel) and thrived in a time where the small forward talent in the NBA was at an all-time high. Brooklyn born, King was 6'7", 205 pounds and was drafted seventh overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 1977 NBA Draft.
King played for the Nets from 1977-79, the Utah Jazz from 1979-80, the Golden State Warriors from 1980-82, the Knicks from 1982-87, the Washington Bullets from 1987-91 and again with the Nets in 1993.
During his career he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1978, to the All-NBA Third Team in 1991, the All-NBA Second Team in 1982, the All-NBA First Team twice in 1984 and 1985, was the NBA scoring champion in 1985 and was a four time NBA All-Star (1982, 1984, 1985, 1991).
In one of the greatest single-season scoring efforts in league history, King averaged 32.9 points per game on 53 percent shooting from the field during the 1984-85 season.
Unfortunately, a major knee injury a year later basically cost King his career with the Knicks and would change his career forever. King tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. While it's an injury that players recover from all the time in modern time that just wasn't the case in the 80's. The injury required reconstructive surgery and caused King to miss all of the 1985-86 season.
While he was able to average an impressive 22.7 points per game during his first six games back. However, it was clear that the injury cost King his explosiveness. Unfortunately, that prompted the Knicks to release him at the end of the 1987 season. Many believe that move may have cost the Knicks the chance at another championship because the combination of King and Ewing could have been deadly.
King was able make one more All-Star Game appearance in 1991 with the Washington Bullets. However, he missed the entire 1991-92 season and his career would come to an end only 32 games later as a member of the Nets.
During his NBA career King scored 19,655 points, recorded 5,060 rebounds and dished 2,863 assists.
There's little doubt that had he avoided injury King would have been enshrined much earlier. That being said, it's clear his greatness has caused lasting memories that even today's NBA players fondly remember.
That brings us to Richie Guerin. Guerin is known as one of the great players in Knicks history. The Bronx native is now 81 years old but in his playing days he was a dominant player. Guerin was a 6'4", 195 pound shooting guard who made six All-Star team appearances.
He was also a three time All-NBA Second Team player (1959, 1960, 1962). Guerin was once a player-coach for the St. Louis Hawks. He also went on to win the 1968 NBA Coach of the Year honors after his playing days were over.
During his career Guerin scored a total of 14,676 points, recorded 4,278 rebounds and dished 4,211 assists.
From 1959-63 with New York, Guerin averaged 22.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. How good was Guerin? Ask Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman whom Guerin battled back when the Celtics were an NBA dynasty.
How respected was Guerin? Celtic legend John Havlicek was his presenter as Guerin entered the Hall of Fame. If you don't know who Guerin is, get to know him. He's one of the reasons why Madison Square Garden is so revered.
There's little doubt that both King and Guerin are examples of the very best the New York Knicks have had to offer during it's history. They both caused fans to stand up, teammates to cheer and competitors to shake their heads. They both clearly belong in the Hall of Fame. They belonged there years ago. Thankfully they've finally been called home, to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
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