You may have been aware that the league created this type of list for the first time in 1996, the year in which they were celebrating 50 years of professional basketball and therefore revealed the famed 50 Greatest Players.
The league decided to build suspense by releasing the 75 players at random over the course of three days (25 players at a time). The alternative would have been just revealing the 25 new players who made the cut, considering the voters chose to keep all of the 50 original members.
New York Knicks: 8 Players make NBA 75 list
Thankfully for the Knicks, this meant all seven former Knicks that were named to the NBA 50 Greatest remain in this group of elites.
The seven Knick legends are Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Jerry Lucas, Bob McAdoo, Earl Monroe, and Willis Reed (naturally, all Hall of Famers). The eighth and newest former Knick to make the list was none other than Carmelo Anthony (Likely first-ballot).
Sure, some of these players have had great success as members of other organizations, but as we Knicks fans love to say “Once A Knick, Always A Knick.” It is awesome to see so many players representing the Orange and Blue in this “who’s who” of NBA royalty.
DeBusschere, Lucas, and Monroe each had nice careers in other cities, but they are all notable for their key roles in New York’s two championships, the latter two both being a part of the 1973 team. DeBusschere was on both of the ’73 and 70′ title squads.
“Clyde” Frazier and “The Captain” Willis Reed were also of course recipients of those two rings. They were the leaders of those great Knicks teams and are both undoubtedly two of the three greatest Knicks of all-time. Frazier is regarded as one of the greatest point guards and defensive players ever. Reed has a stellar resume and is also an elite player all-time at the center position. He was an MVP and 2-time Finals MVP.
Bob McAdoo’s New York career was brief but was transcendent nonetheless. McAdoo is known for his work as a pioneer for the jump-shooting and ball-handling big men we see today. In 1975 he was named league MVP and he won 2 championships with the Los Angeles Lakers as a role player.
Anthony made six All-Star teams in six and a half seasons with the Knicks. He was the catalyst of the 2012-13 team that won 54 games. He also won the scoring title and finished 3rd in MVP voting that year. Carmelo’s biggest accomplishment is becoming one of the NBA’s top 10 all-time points leaders.
Last, but certainly not least, Patrick Ewing has a stake as the greatest Knick ever. Ewing was selected first overall in the 1985 NBA Draft, won Rookie of the Year in 1986, and led the team to a Finals appearance in 1994. He was the superstar for the classic Knicks teams of the ’90s who dominated with an incredibly physical and defensive-minded brand of ball.
As far as all-time New York Knicks who deserve being in the NBA 75 conversation, the official list was almost a perfect 9-for-9. But, unfortunately, there was a significant New York legend who was snubbed.
Bernard King, who also missed the cut for the 1996 top 50 list, was not included. King spent 4 prime seasons in New York, making the All-Star game twice. He also won the scoring title in 1985, averaging 32.9 points per game, the highest such single-season average in New York Knicks history.
It is sad to know that King has gone without the honor twice now, but there is solace in knowing he is rightfully a member of the Hall of Fame and is revered as one of the best scorers and players of his generation.
Maybe in 25 years, when the NBA inevitably compiles a top 100 list, King will finally make it. It could be poetic in the sense that King also waited many years before being recognized by the Hall in 2013.
Hopefully, when the day comes for the league to once again create a list of the league’s elite, some current Knicks (Julius Randle, Derrick Rose, or RJ Barrett perhaps?) or a player who may soon join the team can be recognized. For now, I’d say roughly 10% of the 75 best NBA players ever having all donned New York on their chest is incredibly satisfying.