And on his 75th birthday, what better time to reflect on the man who helped kick the organization off.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier — who picked up his nickname from “Bonnie and Clyde” after a team trainer noticed his style was similar to that of the legendary gangster movie — spent the majority of his career with the Knicks during the 1960s and 1970s, and has worked as an analyst for the team for several decades since.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the Hall of Famer led the Knicks to their only two titles in franchise history.
Leading Knicks to their first, only championships
It didn’t take long for Frazier to make his mark on the Knicks organization.
Frazier, in his third year with the Knicks, helped lead the team to a title in the 1969-70 season in dominant fashion. New York finished with a 60-22 regular-season record and had the best defensive rating among any team in the league. The Knicks lost just once in their first 24 games of the season, too.
And while their NBA Finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers went to seven games, Frazier and the Knicks pulled it off, securing the franchise’s first title. He dropped 36 points and had 19 assists in the win, too, overcoming Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain’s Lakers.
Frazier averaged 20.9 points and 8.2 assists per game that season and earned the first of seven All-Star nods. While he deserves plenty of the credit for their first championship — and the one that came three seasons later in 1973 — he still pushes plenty of credit off to his teammates, including Bill Bradley, Dick Barnett and Willis Reed.
“We personified team,’’ Frazier said last month, via the New York Post. “You can’t mention Frazier without Bradley or Barnett. In ’73 [the Knicks’ second title], we had better talent with Earl [Monroe] and Jerry Lucas. But ’69-70, we had to play as a team to win. That and defense. I could’ve scored more. Willis could’ve scored more. But we wouldn’t have been champions. Everyone sacrificed, especially to get everyone involved.’’
The living members of that team were all set to attend a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden this month to honor the 50th anniversary of the title. Those plans, however, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the time Frazier left the Knicks after the 1976-77 season, he had led the team to the playoffs eight times and made three NBA Finals appearances while averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds.
He wrapped up his career playing portions of three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers before retiring in 1980. Frazier was inducted into the Hall of Fame seven years later.
After his playing career ended, Frazier jumped into a role as a league analyst for TBS the next season. He then returned to the Knicks as an analyst for MSG Networks in 1987, where he still works today.
At 75, Frazier remains a staple in the Knicks’ world. While his number hangs in the rafters at Madison Square Garden, and was one of the first to do so, that’s not necessarily the reason he still gets recognized at the iconic arena.
These days, it has more to do with his attire.
“When I’m at the Garden I hear kids say, ‘Dad, there is the Knick announcer. There is the guy that wears the crazy suits,’ ” Frazier told The Undefeated in 2018. “They rarely know my past. If they are 8 or 10 years old, they know me as the Knick announcer.”
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