Long before Carmelo Anthony came home, fellow Brooklynite Bernard King returned to New York City after five very productive seasons with three different teams.
However, the Knicks took a gamble on King, given his off-court drinking issues, when they traded former first-round pick Michael Ray Richardson and a draft pick to the Golden State Warriors in 1982.
It was during King’s stint in the Big Apple, albeit a brief one, that he found himself and got his personal life on par with the professional side.
Upon his arrival in New York, King immediately became the main attraction, exhibiting a scoring explosiveness unlike any Knick to precede him.
King had perfected the mid-range post and nailed turnaround jumpers with surgical precision. Standing at 6'7", King had the length and athleticism to play above the rim as well, and seeing him finish with a two-hand slam was a common theme.
Although King hauled in over five boards per game during his tenure in New York, it was his scoring ability that really took center stage. After averaging 21.9 points per contest during the 1983-84 campaign, King set a career best with 26.3 the following year.
During the 1984-85 season, King completely obliterated his previous mark, pouring in an astounding 32.9 points and leading the NBA in scoring for the first and only time.
On Christmas Day 1984, King delivered a present to fans in the form of a 60-point outburst versus his former team, the New Jersey Nets. That performance still claims the top spot in the Knicks’ record books for single-game scoring.
King’s best season as a pro came to a crashing halt in late-March 1985 when he brutally tore the ACL in his right knee.
While it looked as though King might never play again, he rehabilitated vigorously until he’d regained the strength to come back for the last six games of 1986-87.
King put up 22.7 points in those contests, but New York had already moved on, as it was a classic example of out of sight, out of mind.
After battling their way to the Eastern Conference semifinals during King’s two past seasons, the Knicks finished the 1984-85 season 24-58, positioning themselves in the draft lottery as King could do nothing but stare at the television.
New York would eventually take Patrick Ewing with the first overall selection of the 1985 NBA draft, and the rest is history.
King missed out on Ewing’s rookie year, and Ewing was hurt when King finally returned for a handful of games in 1987. Technically, both players were on the roster throughout the two seasons, but they never once shared the floor.
Prior to the 1987-88 season, the Knicks dealt King to the Washington Bullets, where he was rejuvenated and went on to have four more standout years.
King appeared in a mere 206 games in five seasons for New York, but he was an All-Star twice and clearly made the most of it when he was healthy.
Since he had such a short stay, some may say he’s undeserving of the “franchise player” designation. However, King made the Knicks relevant and watchable during a period of transition, and he’s a fixture on Knicks highlight reels.
We can only imagine if a tandem of King and Ewing could’ve evolved into a dynasty, but it just wasn’t meant to be.