Gods of the Garden: The Mount Rushmore of the New York Knicks

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2010

Naming the four best athletes in the history of any franchise is no easy task, let alone the New York Knicks.

Although the Knicks only have two NBA titles, there is certainly no loss of star power in the team's history.

Narrowing the rich history of the Knicks to four players was no easy task. But here are—at least, in my opinion—the four Knicks most deserving of being carved in stone.



1. Willis Reed: Heart of a Champion


Reed is one of the most underrated players in the history of professional basketball. He is still the only New York Knick to ever be named the NBA MVP.

He was a two-time NBA champion—and his injury return in the 1970 NBA Finals is still one of the most memorable moments in the history of professional sports. To this day, I still can't quite put into words what Willis did that night.

Reed was a two-time NBA Finals MVP—and he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest big men of his era.

Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain: Reed did more than hold his own against all these guys. 

Nobody got the best of Willis Reed.

He was a leader and a special player.

He had a will to win greater than any athlete I have ever seen in my life.

Willis Reed had the heart of a champion.



2. Walt "Clyde" Frazier: Clutch and Classy

With all the hype on Reed back in Game Seven of the 1970 NBA Finals, most people tend to forget the amazing performance that Frazier turned in during that game.

There is no chance the Knicks win that game without Frazier's performance. He scored 36 points and dished out 19 assists. Not bad, huh?

Frazier always did seem to turn in his finest performances in the playoffs. In his playoff career, he averaged 20.7 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 6.4 assists per game.

He was a dominant playoff performer—and one of the most clutch players in the history of basketball.

Without "Clyde," there is no Reed, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, or Dave DeBusschere: He made everybody around him look better.

If you're making a list of the greatest Knicks of all time, you won't get too far without mentioning Walt Frazier.

He has since taken a job as an announcer for the MSG network.

His use of huge words have kept fans everywhere running for dictionarys, and his loveable voice has kept us watching the Knicks during there darkest moments.



3. Patrick Ewing: A Gift from the Draft Lottery Gods


The New York Knicks struck gold when they won the 1985 NBA Draft lottery. They won the right to pick Patrick "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" Ewing—and he turned out to be all that and more.

Ewing was one of the best big men in the game throughout the '90s—and he anchored some of the best Knicks teams in recent memory.

He led the Knicks to the playoffs 13 times in his 15 years in New York. His battles with Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan made for some of the defining moments of the 1990s.

Ewing was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame on the first ballot—and he definitely deserved it. For his career, he averaged 21 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, and 2.4 blocks per game.

I don't mean to pick on John Starks here—because he was one of the toughest, most dedicated basketball players I've ever seen—but if not for Starks' poor performance in the 1994 NBA Finals, you could definitely argue that Ewing would have a ring of his own.

Regardless of whether or not he won a ring, Ewing's time in New York should not be labeled as anything but a huge success. He saved basketball in the Big Apple—and he reminded us that the Knicks still existed.

For that, he has my utmost respect.



4. Dave DeBusschere: Da Butcher Helps Bake Up Two Banners at the Garden

What better way to round out any Mount Rushmore than with the man who rounded out one of the greatest teams in NBA history?

Reed, Bill Bradley, and Frazier were great—but there is no way they win two titles without DeBusschere.

DeBusschere succeeded from the second he arrived in New York. In just his second season as a Knick, they went on to win a title. He pushed a team that already had three Hall Of Famers over the top.

He was—and still is—one of the greatest defensive forwards in NBA history.

That, however, wasn't enough for DeBusschere.

He was just as much of a threat on offense as he was on defense—not to mention, he was brutal on the glass.

In a 12-year career, he was named to eight All-Star teams—and had he not retired at the young age of 33, who knows what else he could have truly accomplished?

The best part is that DeBusschere did something that no other Knicks player could seem to do: He got the best of Michael Jordan.

That's right; he did what Jordan had always dreamed of: He played Major League Baseball.

Suck on that, Michael.



So there you have it—the four faces you'd most likely find on the New York Knicks Mount Rushmore. Unlike the real Rushmore, I would be more than happy to visit this one.


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