So it's official.
Derrick Rose will wear No. 25 in honor of Chicago's Simeon High School and Ben Wilson. Simeon is a South Side basketball powerhouse that's produced several NBA standouts, including Rose, Jabari Parker, and Nick Anderson. Wilson was considered the top prospect in the country before being murdered in 1984; the ESPN documentary Benji further explores the tragic shooting.
Rose will be the 13th Knick to wear No. 25. How did the others fare? Like life itself, the experience is wide-ranging. For the Knicks' first 25 (!) years of existence, no one wore 25. Milt Williams broke new ground donning the digits in 1971. Who the hell is Milt Williams, you may wonder? Just a dude...whose 100% field goal percentage ranks 1st in Knicks history. Some people say Uncle Milty only took one shot in his Knicks tenure. You know what?
Next to wear No. 25: Jim Barnett. Barnett's greatest claim to fame is being the second-greatest Barnett in Knick history, behind Dick. Dick Barnett (nicknames: "Skull" and "Fall Back Baby") was traded to the Knicks from the Lakers for a dude named Bob Boozer. Is it me, or were names cooler back in the day? I love the poetry of a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and I'm excited at the prospect of a future with Thon Maker, but will we ever see a Barnett for Bob Boozer trade again? And don't come at me with Carlos Boozer. Alliteration I respect. Screaming overrated power forwards? LOL nah.
The greatest No. 25 in Knickstory is without question James William Cartwright. As the sands of time pass through the hourglass of...time...it's tempting to remember Bill for his Ginsu elbows and greatest pre-Mutombo rasp in NBA history. But Cartwright was legit! Averaging 21 points and 9 rebounds his first season, he made the 1980 All-Rookie team alongside dudes named Magic and Bird (and also Calvin Natt and David Greenwood, if you're into that sort of thing). Unfortunately those were numbers he never reached again, but Cartwright was a solid starter for years in New York, eventually forming an ill-fitting Twin Towers alongside Patrick Ewing and being traded for Charles Oakley and the pick that became Rod Strickland.
Cartwright wore No. 25 for nine seasons, which makes him the Cal Ripken Jr. of Knick 25s. No one else wore the number for more than three years, including the next player on the list, Glenn "Doc" Rivers. Doc ran the point in 1993, one of only two years the Knicks won 60 games (the other being the title year of 1970). Early in 1994, with the team rolling along at 15-4, Doc drove for a layup and got caught between the Lakers' Vlade Divac and Anthony Peeler. Doc was out for the season (fucking Lakers), Derek Harper took the reins, and that was pretty much that for Knick Doc. Interesting note: the night Rivers was injured, Ewing passed Walt Frazier for most points as a Knick. Subtract Frazier's uniform number (10) from Ewing's (33), and add the number of 60-win seasons in Knick history (2), and you get 25. I know you're out there, bluecheese999. Much love.
Since '95 the No. 25 jersey has been worn by forgettable folk. David Wingate, Erick Strickland, and Larry Robinson all donned it for limited and uninspiring engagements. Moochie Norris wore #25 over two seasons. Mardy Collins gave it a go, but he's mostly remembered for being compared by Isiah Thomas to Walt Frazier. And for flagrant fouling one future Knick to lead to a brawl where another future Knick got sucker-punched by another future Knick.
In 2009 Cheikh Samb wore No. 25. If you know who that is, thanks for reading, Cheikh Samb! In 2011 we witnessed history, as one Knick No. 25, Timofey Mozgov, was traded to Denver and one of the players acquired, Anthony Carter, immediately took on the No. 25 jersey.
Since then, this mathematically satisfying number has lingered in the shadows, gone but not forgotten. It's hard to imagine Derrick Rose lasting the decade the Bill Cartwright did. It's hard to imagine him ending up as ignominious as Mardy Collins. So what can we hope for from the newest Knick? I never thought I'd write this sentence, but if Derrick Rose comes anywhere near the legacy of Milt Williams, I'll take it.