A Pox on the 3-Spot

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February 17, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

The history of the New York Knicks is neither as glamorous nor rich as we Knick fans would like to believe it is.  We’ve only won two championships, been mired in two 10-year long periods of futility, and become woefully ignorant of the up and coming talent in our very backyard.  The three most prolific franchise players are centers Patrick Ewing, Willis Reed, and point guard Walt Frazier, only one of whom played his entire career in New York.  Besides the lack of dedication to winning, and the idiotic misuse of the NBA draft, one noticeable void in Knicks history is the lack of a prominent small forward.[1]

Now, I’m not saying we need a Lebron James, or a Kevin Durant, or even a Mark Aguirre, but when it comes to the Knicks, the small forward position has become something of a cursed position.  From Bill Bradley all the way to Carmelo Anthony, small forwards in New York turn out to be either busts, ineffectual, or grievously injured.  Going case by case across the most prolific small forwards to ever call themselves a Knickerbocker it’ll become more apparent that the Garden has as much love for small forwards as Charles Barkley has for Scottie Pippen.

Bill Bradley

Granted, he was like the fifth scoring option on the championship teams that included Clyde Frazier and Willis Reed, but the fact that he’s a hall of famer is more a testament to who he played with as opposed to his own playing skills.  In ten years he was an all-star only once, scored less than 10,000 points, and only averaged 12.5 pts., 3.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.  What people don’t know is that when he first got to New York, the Knicks tried to make him into a viable scoring threat….but it failed.  With all the hype around him, had it not been for bonafied superstars around him, Bradley would have been labeled a bust.

Bernard King

First of all, Bernard King is fucking awesome, and the fact that he never played a game with Uncle Patrick is one of the biggest tragedies and travesties to ever befall Madison Square Garden.  It would have been beautiful!  On the one hand, you’d have Uncle Patrick fucking the shit out of the point, and out on the perimeter would be the King making it rain every night.  But alas, Bernard King who was a stud, tore his ACL in 1985-at the peak of his prowess.  After two grueling years, King became the first athlete to successfully come back from tearing his ACL; however, proving that the Knicks have always had shitheads running the front office even before James Dolan came around, the Knicks released King after the 1987 season.  He never played with Patrick Ewing, which because of the ACL tear would have actually made them even more compatible and complimentary.  But it was the Goddam ACL that robbed us of the greatness of the Bernard King in the first place.

Kenny Walker

If greatness was synonymous with hairstyle, Kenny Walker would be the greatest forward to ever play the game.  However, it’s not, and Kenny “Sky” Walker is probably the biggest bust in Knicks history.  A two time SEC player of the year, Walker was drafted fifth in 1986 to replace Bernard King who was still recovering from a torn ACL…which is why he never played with Patrick Ewing.  Kenny Walker did however play with Patrick Ewing, but had none of the offensive skillset that King possessed.  I shouldn’t say that; the only (emphasis on only) thing Walker could do was dunk.  If he was Galactus, he could dunk the sun into a black hole.  After five years, the Knicks decided to part ways with Walker despite his otherworldly flattop.  Kenny Walker could jump, dunk and put Iman Shumpert’s flattop to shame.  He also wore spanks…kinda a lot.

Xavier McDaniel

Replacing Kenny Walker, who was in fact himself a replacement for Bernard King, big things were expected of Xavier McDaniel, former first round draft pick who solely by the grace of God wound up in New York.[2]  Paired with Uncle Patrick and Chucky O., McDaniel was the missing piece in the Knicks frontcourt.  He was a tall, physical brute who was probably the second most intimidating person in the NBA behind Charles Oakley.  However, there were initial growing pains as McDaniel was trying to figure out his role with the team.  But by the 1992 playoffs, everything seemed to click and McDaniel exploded, and alongside Patrick Ewing almost led the Knicks to an upset over the heavily favored Bulls.[3]  However, no good thing lasts forever in the Garden, and because of contractual disputes McDaniel was gone after only one year in New York.  In the absence of the best small forward since Bernard King, the Knicks then turned to…

Charles Smith

This is exactly why you don’t take a power forward and make him play small forward.  It’s not working in Detroit, and it didn’t work here in New York.  Charles Smith is the antithesis of Xavier McDaniel: soft, no sense of defense, can’t rebound and articulate.  In short, he had no place being on Pat Riley’s Knicks.  Everything you ever needed to know about Charles Smith and why he’s the most despised man on this list can be found in this right here.

Larry Johnson (Grandmama)

For those that don’t know it, there are actually two Larry Johnsons.  The first, or Grandmama, was a behemoth for the Charlotte Hornets who was a two time all-star and a franchise player.  The second Larry Johnson, or LJ, played for the New York Knicks and miraculously became a three-point shooting threat plagued by a consistently broken back (think a less reckless Josh Smith with post 1988 Don Mattingly).  We needed Grandmama, but we got LJ instead who retired from the league at age 32.  What would have happened if a fully healthy juggernaut dressed in drag came to play for the Knicks?  We’ll never have the answer to that question, but his mysterious four point play will live on in Knicks lore for all time.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony is neither bust, nor injury plagued, nor ineffectual.  The curse does live on in him still, as when were are finally blessed with a gifted small forward, we’re ironically cursed with a horrible team.  To further salt the wounds, Melo is playing the best basketball of his career this year, but because of the team’s refusal to play defense and pass the ball, all his skills are for naught.  He’s wasting the best years of his career with this team right now, and if he does leave the Knicks this summer it’ll be because the team has let him down.  We finally get a franchise small forward, and typical Knicks, we squander that opportunity.

From the injury riddled Bernard King and Larry Johnson, to the bust that was Kenny Walker, to the ineffectual and embarrassing Charles Smith, the Knicks have never been blessed with an enduring and great small forward.  Besides winning, it looks like the Knicks are also not allowed to have a decent small forward.  But, such is the life of a Knicks fan born after 1973, where words like “can’t” and “won’t” and “James Dolan” have become all to prevalent.


[1] According to bleacherreport.com, over the past 30 years the Knicks are the second worst team when it comes to the draft.  They narrowly edge out the Clippers.

[2] Either God or David Stern.  In the NBA these two people can be considered one in the same.

[3] I’m fairly certain that during this seven game series with Chicago, McDaniel was indicted with seven counts of first degree murder for the way he played defensive against Scottie Pippen.

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