#17. Willie Naulls

Best Season as a Knick: 1960-61, 23.4 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 37.7 MPG

The late 50’s and early 60’s were dark times for the Knicks: from 1956-63 the team made the playoffs just once and never won more than 40 games.  One of the guys who carried the torch during those dark times was Willie Naulls, a bullish, undersized big man who currently sits fifth in Knicks history in career points per game.

(At 6-6 and 225 lbs., Naulls played center and was known as “the whale.”  Today he’d have two choices: either be a big guard, or be Chuck Hayes.  Option c) “drop 20 and 10 three years in a row” would not be listed.  I guess the game really has changed.)

Until this past season Naulls had held the Knicks record with seven consecutive 30+ point games – you may remember Amar’e Stoudemire breaking that record against Denver.  Naulls has his name splashed over the rest of the Knick history books as well, including tenth in field goals attempted and fifth with 5,008 rebounds.  He led his Knick teams in rebounding three times and in scoring once, averaging 19.3 points and 10.7 rebounds while with the club.  The Dallas native was named an All-Star on four occasions.

As seems to be a trend on this list, Naulls may be remembered best for his achievements outside the numbers.  As a Knick, Naulls became the first African-American to be named captain of a major American professional sports team.

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