On the eve of what I consider to be a trade which will improve the Knicks only modestly and destroy the young core and much of the flexibility D.Walsh has worked hard to create, I decided to look into Knicks history, 1968 to be exact. Attached for your reading is an article by Dr. Jack Ramsay, one of the NBA’s great coaches. It concerns the Knicks acquisition of Dave DeBusschere from the Pistons for Walt Bellamy and Howie Komives. The highlights of the trade were (a) the Knicks persistence and patience (over several years, I believe) in trying to acquire DeBusschere from the Pistons; (b) the fact that the Knicks gave up 2 players who were replaced IMMEDIATELY by superior home-grown talent: Bellamy was replaced by the great Willis Reed; Komives was replaced by Walt “Clyde” Frazier; and (c) the fact that the acquisition was a “perfect fit” on both offense and defense and resulted in the only 2 championships the Knicks have won. .
DeBusschere had been a legend in Detroit, a 2-sport star who also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and also was player-coach of the Pistons at age 24. Lest we forget, it was DeBusschere who, at 6’-6” guarded 7’-1” Wilt Chamberlain in the famous Game 7, won by the Knicks in which Clyde went for 36.
[I could look into the Earl Monroe trade or the Jerry Lucas trade of a few years later, or the Camby trade, or the Mark Jackson trade, but this trade seems to prove my point very well.]
After reading the article, does ANYONE think the Melo trade (in any of the proposed combinations) will do anything similar for the modern Knicks? Surely MDA and Walsh do not.
I was in my first year coaching the Philadelphia 76ers (1968), when Dave DeBusschere was traded from the Pistons to the Knicks for center Walt Bellamy and reserve guard Howard Komives. The Knicks had a pretty good team before the trade with a frontline that consisted of Bellamy, Willis Reed and Cazzie Russell. The backcourt was Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett. Red Holzman coached the Knicks to a 43-39 record the previous season but had lost to the Sixers 4-2 in a hard-fought playoff series.
On paper, I thought the trade made the Knicks easier for us to match up with.
I was wrong.
By trading away Bellamy, Holzman was able to move Reed to center and put DeBusschere on the front line with Bill Bradley. The team wasn't as big as before, but it became quicker, better defensively and unselfish with its ball movement.
DeBusschere and Bradley were the key players. Both were excellent perimeter shooters, good passers, tough one-on-one defenders and -- most of all -- total team players. Frazier was great with the ball, and Barnett and Russell shot the ball well.
The Sixers had high-scoring forward Billy Cunningham, who battled with DeBusschere relentlessly on the court. Dave stayed on Billy's left hand and was hard to shake. It seemed he was always in defensive position -- either against the fastbreak or in halfcourt.
DeBusschere was a clutch player who always seemed to make the big jump shot from the corner or get an offensive rebound that his team needed. The Knicks became a contending team because of the trade that brought them DeBusschere. He was a steady 15-point, nine-rebound forward who put his full energy into every game. With DeBusschere, the Knicks became the league's second-best scoring team and first in points allowed that year. They lost to Boston in the conference finals that first season (1968-69), but won NBA championships in 1970 and 1973.
Although DeBusschere was a tough competitor during the game, he was friendly and approachable before and after. He often stopped during pregame shooting to chat with me about my team and the league. Because he had been a player-coach with the Pistons for several years, he had an appreciation for the job and seemed to enjoy talking about it. On those occasions I'd think, "What a nice guy."
Then when the game started, he put on his game face and was all business -- defending his man body-to-body, hitting the boards, moving without the ball, making a scoring pass, and hitting the open shot.
I continued to bump into Dave when he was general manager of the Knicks from 1982 to 1986, and he was the same pleasant person I remembered during those pregame chats.
I've always regarded Holzman's Knicks as one of the game's all-time great teams. They played a seemingly impenetrable team defense and moved the ball quickly and with purpose on offense. That team game reached full bloom with the acquisition of DeBusschere -- a dedicated team player, tough competitor and genuine nice guy.