NY Knicks: Top 5 end of the bench fan favorites since 2010

Ron Baker, signed by Steve Mills (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Ron Baker, signed by Steve Mills (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Cleanthony Early #17 of the New York Knicks in action against Mike Scott #32 of the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2014 in New York City. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 91-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

5. Knicks end-of-bench favorites: Cleanthony Early

This one is a bit of a selfish pick on my part. I grew up in the Woodside/Maspeth area of Queens, and Early’s infamous episode while leaving the strip club in December 2015 went down around the corner from my childhood home. Whenever I go back there and talk Knicks basketball with my old friend from elementary school, we are quick to mention that we’re standing at “Cleanthony’s Corner”.

Before the incident, he was billed as a versatile swingman coming from a heralded mid-major program in Wichita State University. He was raw, but his length and wingspan on the defensive end figured to be an asset to work with, while the offense would hopefully come later.

He was projected by some media outlets as a late first round pick, but the Knicks ended up taking Early in the second round of the 2014 draft, with the 34th overall pick, the first draft selection of Phil Jackson’s tenure as team president.

Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall spoke to Early’s approach to the game as having a chip on his shoulder, and surmised that Early’s selection in the second round might add fuel to his fire to prove that he was worth a first round investment.

Marshall also told a story about Early where he unselfishly declined to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, in favor of a less nationally visible Shocker teammate, Tekele Cotton.

Unfortunately, Early’s career with the Knicks didn’t last long, appearing in only seven more games after the incident in New York before moving overseas. He recently criticized the team’s development program. The local product out of Middletown, New York had his career cut short, but was well respected for coming back after such a troubling personal and physical ordeal.