Heading into the 1977 NBA Draft, Toby Knight had wrapped up a fairly successful collegiate career at the University of Notre Dame. A four-year player, he averaged 15.2 points and 10.6 rebounds in 29.9 minutes a night.
Seeing the potential within the 6-foot-9 forward, the Knicks managed to snag Knight with a mid-second-round pick. His success was never guaranteed, but the risk was well worth the chance.
During his rookie season, Knight was productive in limited minutes, yet did little to set the league on fire. Such is the case with most rookies, who tend to require time to get their footing in the NBA. His struggles were a little surprising, though given the shortened learning curve he was supposed to go through having spent four years in college.
Over the next two seasons, he broke out into the offensive force New York had hoped he could become with 17.9 points per contest, to go along with 6.4 rebounds per game. Still just 24 years of age, it looked as though the best was yet to come, with recognition and All-Star appearances likely in his future.
Then, it was as if he vanished off the face of the NBA map. A knee injury kept him out for the entirety of the 1980-81 NBA season, a true momentum killer for a guy whose career really seemed to be picking up steam. Upon his return the following season, Knight just wasn’t the same player, having lacked the mobility that comes with such an ailment.
He averaged the worst numbers of his career and wouldn’t play again, waived by the Knicks in the Summer 1983. The NBA is filled with tales of what-ifs that leave more questions than answers. Not many know of Knight’s career, and it, unfortunately, seems like that injury was the cause of it all.