Ranking the favorite end-of-bench New York Knicks players of the aughts.
While the aughts isn’t a decade fondly remembered by most New York Knicks fans, there were still some notable players who passed through the World’s Most Famous Arena during that time, particularly those who found a special spot along the bench.
These were guys who the Knicks didn’t trade future lottery picks for, sign to unwieldy contracts, or label as the savior, they were the hard-working types, the players easy to route for. Last week, we examined our favorite end-of-bench players since 2010; today, we look at our favorites from the early 2000s.
5. Knicks end-of-bench favorites: Frank Williams
Before he became a prime candidate for this list, Frank Williams was a solid college prospect at the University of Illinois. He won Big 10 Player of the Year in the 2000 season, and led his team to an Elite 8 appearance in the 2001 season.
Skip Bayless (yes, that Skip Bayless) wrote a whole piece in March 2001 for the Chicago Tribune begging for the Fighting Illini to give the ball to Frank Williams more often and watch him make good things happen.
"“It’s only hope: Free Frankie,” Bayless wrote. “Tell him it’s his ball and his game. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Give him the kind of green light that shines on the player who will take over the United Center on Wednesday night–Allen Iverson.”"
The Knicks drafted Williams in the first round of the 2002 draft, thinking that he could bring some youth to an aging group of guards, which included Charlie Ward and Howard Eisley. Hoping they could hang around long enough to make the playoffs, New York never tried to unleash the former March Madness maven in the 2002-2003 season. They ended up finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference, five games behind the 8th seeded Orlando Magic—not quite close enough to be playoff worthy, but not far enough out of the mix to relinquish control to their first round selection.
Having suffered through two straight losing seasons, the team decided they had to shake things up in a big way during the 2003-2004 campaign. Their big move – acquiring local hero Stephon Marbury – came at the expense of Williams’ development.
After that, Williams was relegated to cheerleader duty for the rest of his Knicks tenure, which ended that season. His chance to contribute disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared, making him a tough luck inclusion on this piece.