As we prepare for the playoffs for what feels like the first time in forever, we Knicks fans can’t help but be sentimental about the great Knicks teams of the past. They remind us what we’re shooting for, as well as the happy memories of championships and finals long fought for.
With those great teams comes the Hall of Famers who played for them. One of whom we hear every game by way of rhyming and diming commentary in Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazer, but there have been others who have operated further from the limelight.
Looking back on the great teams and players of the league feels especially nice during this strangest of strange seasons. Grounding ourselves in history lets us speak with certainty during a time where the league is anything but. It allows us to read books that have their endings written. The great players of old have retired. We can step back and look at the scale of their careers with a critical and well-informed eye. How can we know if Julius Randle will finish higher in the Knicks’ All-Time rankings than Larry Johnson, or Dave DeBusschere, or Jerry Lucas? We can’t.
What we can do is debate and compare the stars of old. Those whose stories have been written within the context of the NBA. As the oldest team in the league, New York has had the honor to dress several Hall of Famers in the orange and blue, but perhaps none of them walked so tall as Willis Reed and Patrick Ewing.
Unquestionably the two top centers in Knicks history, the question of who takes the top spot has been argued across and often by multiple generations. Ewing, the 11x All-Star, the king of New York basketball for 13 years, or Reed, the anchor and MVP of two title teams.
Let’s end this debate once and for all. Who was the better player? Who was the better Knick? And who will get me screamed at by his legion of adoring fans? We shall see…