New York City Point Guards in the NBA: Looking Back Through History
Aah, New York City. What a spectacular town. It's the home of Jay-Z, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square.
It's also the hometown of a long list of point guards who have played in the NBA over the years.
While some of these guys enjoyed a great deal of success in the pros, others were busts.
The NBA's most successful NYC floor general, Bob Cousy, entered the league in 1950. He quickly earned the nickname the "Houdini of the Hardwood," because of his flashy ball handling and passing abilities.
Cousy helped the Boston Celtics capture six titles and won a regular season MVP (rare for a point guard), two All-Star Game MVP's, and made 13 All-Star appearances.
He is widely considered as one of the NBA's greatest players of all time and he won more rings than any other point guard in league history
In 1960, Lenny Wilkens made his debut with the then-St. Louis Hawks. The Brooklyn native was named to the All-Star team nine times and once led the league in assists. He also finished in second place behind Wilt Chamberlain for the 1967-68 MVP award.
Wilkens later enjoyed success on the sideline as he set the all-time record for most wins by a head coach.
The league witnessed the entrance of Nathaniel "Tiny" Archibald in 1970. The former UTEP guard made six All-Star appearances and was named to the All-NBA First Team three times.
He is the only player ever to lead the league in both scoring and assists in the same season (1972-72), and what a season that was: 34 points and 11.4 assists per game.
Fast-forward to the 1980s.
A Brooklyn native by the name of Dwayne "Pearl" Washington was the 13th overall pick of the 1986 draft. Washington is regarded as a NYC playground legend, but he unfortunately failed in the pros.
He lasted only three seasons in the league with the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat playing in a total of 194 ball games.
The 1987 draft produced two more NYC floor generals: Kenny "The Jet" Smith and Mark Jackson.
Smith, a current TNT basketball analyst, was the sixth overall pick. The former North Carolina Tar Heel never made an All-Star team, but helped the Houston Rockets win back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995.
Jackson was selected by his hometown Knicks with the 18th overall pick. He won Rookie of the Year honors and made his only trip to the All-Star game in 1989.
Jackson played 17 seasons in the league with seven different teams and currently ranks second on the all-time assists list behind John Stockton.
1988 saw a point guard controversy develop in New York when the Knicks drafted Bronx native Rodney "Rod" Strickland even though they already had Jackson running the show.
Strickland backed-up Jackson for a season and a half before being traded to San Antonio where he became a starter.
Like Jackson, Strickland went on to play in 17 NBA seasons and may be one of the best players to never make an All-Star team—as he averaged at least 17 points and eight assists per game for five consecutive seasons.
In 1991, Kenny Anderson, arguably the greatest NYC high school point guard of all time, arrived onto the NBA scene. He was selected by the Nets with the second overall pick in that year's draft.
Anderson struggled in his rookie year, but later emerged as one of the league's better point guards and was a starter in the 1994 All-Star Game.
He had a decent 14-year career, but never became the superstar that some people predicted he would be.
Stephon Marbury made his highly anticipated NBA debut in 1996 after one year at Georgia Tech and much like Anderson before him, he was expected to become NYC's next great point guard.
"Starbury" began his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves as he teamed with Kevin Garnett to form one of the league's most exciting young duos. He spent two and half seasons in Minny before being traded three times in the next six years.
Marbury played 13 seasons in the league with impressive career averages of 19.3 points and 7.6 assists per game.
Marbury's cousin, Sebastian Telfair, skipped college and entered the NBA in 2004. Of course, the "Next Great NYC Point Guard" label was unfairly placed on him.
The current Los Angeles Clipper is now in his sixth season and has already been traded three times. He owns career averages of only 8.2 points and four assists per game, and since he is only 24 years old, it's too early to consider him a bust.
Telfair will likely never become an All-Star point guard, but he could very well be a solid backup for many years down the road. We'll see.
Other NYC point guards to play in the NBA include Jamaal Tinsley, Rafer Alston, Smush Parker, Khalid Reeves, Erick Barkley, Omar Cook, and God Shammgod.
So, the big question is: who will be the next guy to make the jump from the Big Apple playgrounds to basketball's most competitive league?
Only time will tell.
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