Power Forward, Round 2, Pick 17 in 1967
If all you know about Phil Jackson is that he held the position of team president with the New York Knicks, it’d be worth educating yourself more. Before Jackson was a legendary head coach and a divisive executive, he was a critical contributor to the champion Knicks.
New York’s championship seasons 1970 and 1973 are believed to be because of its stars, but the role players who helped create the gritty reputation played a critical role.
Jackson played 10 seasons for the Knicks, which is testament enough to his unrivaled toughness. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 1969 and subsequently missed the entire 1969-70 season, during which the Knicks won their first championship.
Jackson returned in 1970-71, and was immediately taking charges for his team—a truth that’s almost impossible to believe considering what his back had already been through.
Jackson was Red Holzman‘s understudy and became a critical contributor in 1972-73. He contributed across the board, including an average of 8.7 points in just 19.9 minutes per game during the run to the 1973 NBA championship.
Jackson’s playing time and production would increase from thereon out, but finding a key rotational cog for a championship team in the second round is a steal.