1973 Game 5 NBA Championship Relived by Two Knicks Legends 40 Years Later

Benjamin J. BlockCorrespondent IIApril 10, 2013

Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe at Clyde's Wine and Dine restaurant getting ready to watch Game 5 of the 1973 Finals for the first time.
Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe at Clyde's Wine and Dine restaurant getting ready to watch Game 5 of the 1973 Finals for the first time.

On a Monday afternoon in April, where New York City flirted with 70 degrees, Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe warmed up to the idea of kicking back and watching the tape of Game 5 of the 1973 finals when their New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 102-93 to win the title.

Thanks to the recent recovery and restoration of ABC's May 10 broadcast nearly 40 years ago, this historical game is finally available for viewing.

The general public can watch the Knicks' second and last championship in its entirety on Sunday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET on MSG Network, following the Knicks-Pacers game.

Clyde and The Pearl, however, hosted an intimate screening at Clyde's Wine and Dine restaurant Monday, where the two legends watched the game together for the very first time.

The disco music montage leading into Game 5 followed by broadcasters Keith Jackson and Bill Russell wearing mustard-yellow-colored ABC jackets and cigarette-sponsored commercials makes you think that you have traveled back in time to the 1970s.  

And then the Knicks starting five of Frazier, Monroe, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere and Willis Reed—all in the Hall of Fame—were announced. 

What easily could have been mistaken as just about any passionate Knicks fan overcome with emotion yelling at the TV, Frazier got lost in the moment and shouted, "let's finish these guys today, we need to take care of business."

Take away his orange blazer, black silk shirt, orange tie, black pants and matching orange leather gators (of course) and replace that with his tight away-blue Knicks uniform, and Frazier was transported back in time.

"We were a veteran team, there wasn't a lot of hoopla going into the game," Clyde recalled.

He thoroughly enjoyed watching footage that he hadn't seen for nearly 40 years, and was entertained and reminded of that teams' rhythm, saying "we didn't have breakaway baskets, we had broken-in baskets." 

Earl especially treasured reliving this championship video because as he reminded the media, he had been to the NBA Finals in three consecutive years—1970-71, 1971-72 and 1972-73—and he lost in his first two trips.

His first time there, his Bullets were swept 4-0 by the Milwaukee Bucks. The next season was his first year with the Knicks, and he lost again, this time to the Lakers.

The Pearl was grounded in watching himself, saying "watching this makes you humble, makes you think you're not as good as you thought you were."

Maybe 40 years has a way of doing that, but New Yorkers know that Earl "The Pearl" is one of the best to ever lace them up.

In the fourth quarter, as the Knicks pulled away from the Lakers, Frazier joked with the room, saying "the Laker basket did not have a lid on it folks."

Monroe's comments after watching the tape really captured the essence of the viewing.

"The fact that we saw Red Holzman, Dave DeBusschere and those guys that aren't with us anymore, it makes it kind of a bitter-sweet scenario, but overall, it's just good to see us going out and doing what we used to do.

You remember things a little differently, you don't remember all the bad days that happened to you.  When you see it, you shutter, saying I should have done this and I should have done that. The fact that we won in the end run, makes a big difference in how we view it."

This refurbished footage clearly meant a lot to Frazier and Monroe, and there's no doubt that Knicks fans young and old will love watching it as well.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.