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P&T Round(ball) Table: Selecting the Knicks’ All-Time Team

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The rest of the league doesn’t stand a chance

P&T Illustration

On Friday, the good folks at NBA 2K announced that they would be including All-Time teams for all 30 franchises in this year’s edition of the game:

Other than the really important questions like, “Do the Hornets (née Bobcats) get to claim the former Charlotte Hornets players, or do the Pelicans (née Hornets)?” and “Can you even name 15 Grizzlies players worth being on an All-Time team?”, we at P&T couldn’t resist speculating about who might make the Knicks’ group of greatness.

Here we humbly present our choices for the All-Time Knicks:


Matt Miranda

PG - Walt Frazier | SG - Richie Guerin | SF - Bernard King | PF - Dave DeBusschere | C - Patrick Ewing | 6th Man - Willis Reed

Frazier was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer who painted a Mona Lisa on the biggest stage in NYK history. A true two-way terror. Also just about every other Knick point guard has fallen somewhere on the continuum between "This isn't what I ordered" and "That's not even organic matter." So Clyde wins on multiple levels.

Guerin is forgotten nowadays because he was dumb enough to be born before TV and YouTube and the rest of us, but he was an elite scorer (once averaged 29.5 points per game, second in Knick history) and also skilled enough to contribute rebounds and assists, two things Allan Houston never did. My heart wanted to choose John Starks, but James Marceda swore he'd rain down "fire and fury" against my entire ancestral line if I did, and before we antagonize we must mobilize.

King was a true mensch, a scoring maestro (the only Knick to ever average over 30 in a season) and a New York Moses, leading the team through years mostly spent wandering; he wouldn't make it to the Promised Land, but his performance for the ages against the Isiah Thomas Pistons in 1984 proves that God is good.

DeBusschere legitimized evolutionary biology by proving the missing link does exist: a far better defender than Amar'e Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony and a far more complete offensive force than Charles Oakley, his seamless fit at the 4 alongside Reed got the Knicks rolling toward their two titles. Also, he will forever be the link between the 1970's Knicks and the Patrick Ewing era, having drafted The Franchise in 1985.

Regarding Ewing: he's not just the greatest Knick ever, he's greater, historically, than he's often recognized as.

Reed's contributions, both tangible (NBA MVP; two-time Finals MVP; beat up all the Lakers once) and intangible (Marv Albert's game 7 call: "Now here comes Willis! And the crowd is going wild!") speak for themselves.


Stingy

PG - Rod Strickland | SG - Earl Monroe | SF - Latrell Sprewell | PF - Anthony Mason | C - Rasheed Wallace | 6th Man - Pablo Prigioni

This is the crew that just oozes cool to me. Strickland was a wily basketball twister, guaranteed to make ‘em jump. He’s setting the table and the tempo.

Monroe was the slick scorer they call Black Jesus. I can’t futz with that and neither should you. He’ll be spinning and slicing open the wing hitting defenders with lethal up and under and of course, the fall back baby.

Spree! The American Dream! Young, black and rich, he choked out his shift manager in Golden State. Every New Yorker wants to do exactly what Spree did. Slashing through the paint and unearthing ferocious dunks on those pathetic NBA big man heads.

Anthony Mason is easily one of my favorite players in history and I miss him. Resting in power, rumbling coast to coast through the cosmos.

Sheed was only a Knick for a minute or two, but I’ll be damned if he wasn’t the city’s spirit animal while he was around. Plus he can stretch the floor from the center position. You know that’s 2K-ssential.

And let’s shift up as needed or trot out some ball movement magic with the 2-point guard line up. I need Pablo in the place to be. There’s really no questioning this squad.


Dillon (New York Basketball Observer)

PG - Walt Frazier | SG - Allan Houston | SF - Carmelo Antony | PF - Willis Reed | C - Patrick Ewing | 6th Man - John Starks

This is classic, original formula Knicks through the eyes of this 80's baby. A little current, a little throwback, and mostly comprised of 90's Knicks, this team is getting it done on the big stage.

Shame on you if you didn't pick Clyde at PG. How dubious. How contemptuous. How opprobrious. Not just the Knicks' all-time assist leader, the retrospective analytics were also kind to Frazier, and he holds the best box plus/minus mark as well as offensive win shares. Ironically, the point guard that most Knicks fans seek is described with Frazier's skills. Truly a two-way player, Frazier was a gritty and relentless defender on the ball whose penchant for passing was contagious on the offensive end.

Allan Houston was pretty great. I'm not going to sit here and put guys like Kenny Sears and Dick Barnett on my all-time team. Not because they weren't great, but mostly I just didn't watch them. I'm sorry I'm an ungrateful, young piece of millennial trash, but you can keep Dave Stallworth, Elvis, and your tacky Marilyn Monroe painting. Give me The War Report by Capone & Noreaga, a Magic Eye book, and Allan Houston giving buzzer-beaters out to the Heat. 40 percent 3-point shooter over the course of his Knicks tenure. Splash.

I'm gonna keep this short, Melo is not only the best player the Knicks have had on their team in the last 10-15 years, but he could be the best SF ever for this franchise. Don't @ me.

Willis Reed is my throwback pick. I'm not sleeping on the pre-80's Knicks, I just don't know how good a guy like Dick McGuire really is compared to like.... Ramon Sessions, for example. What I do know is that if you step to an entire team in a fight, you have a spot on any roster that I'm putting together. Reed averaged something like 20 and 15 in his rookie year. If KP averaged 20 and 15 in his rookie year, he might have had his jersey retired already by overzealous fans.

Patrick Ewing is the best player to ever put on a Knicks uniform. No room for debate with me on that, to be honest.

John Starks is the reason I fell in love with basketball. A perfect 6th man. The first step in being a great and lovable 6th man is being unpredictable. Bonus points if you're also volatile. Starks was undrafted and out of the NBA after just one year. All antagonizing aside, has there ever been an undrafted player whose career was as good as Starks'? At any rate, Starks was an emotional, streaky, heat-check player who the Knicks were forced to live and die by. Although he came from Oklahoma, he so embodied the NYC spirit at that time that he's still revered as one of the most iconic NY athletes. Starks was as blue collar as it gets and very much an underdog type of player. "The Dunk" is a patronizing oversimplification of Starks. Truth be told, that dunk wasn't really on Jordan and really didn't mean anything. I kind of don't get the obsession with the play and instead remember Starks more for the Reggie Miller head-butts, the free-throw chokes, dunking on Mark West, hitting buzzer-beaters against the Suns, and an array of irresponsible reverse layups. Starks was imperfect. Starks was human. STARKS IS ME!


Joe

PG - Walt “Clyde” Frazier | SG - Allan Houston | SF - Carmelo Anthony | PF - Anthony Mason | C - Patrick Ewing | 6th Man - Willis Reed

Clyde and pre-knee injury Ewing are no-brainers. Young Ewing was such a physical marvel that he could dominate at center even in the modern game. He might even hit a 3 or two!

I'm not the world’s biggest Houston fan, but this crew needs shooting. It's the same reason I picked Melo over Bernard—perhaps Bernard could excel in the three-heavy modern game, but I know Melo can. He should lead this squad in scoring.

As for Mase, he was truly ahead of his time, and would wreck shit as a ball-handling, break-running 4 who can guard multiple positions.

The Captain is around for leadership, post scoring, and maybe fighting the entire Lakers' bench.


China (chiniqua)

PG - Walt “Clyde” Frazier | SG - John Starks | SF - Carmelo Anthony | PF - Kristaps Porzingis | C - Patrick Ewing | 6th Man - Spree

Clyde is easy because he's awesome and also the best point guard the team has ever had by a country mile.

I will fight anyone for John Starks, including you, Stingy. I don't care about fucking analytics or whatever method of misery you choose to deny joy in your life. John Starks is everything that Knicks basketball is when it is good. A little undertalented, a lot overhyped, but absolutely ferocious in effort. Despite billion dollar MSG renovations, the Knicks, when they are their best selves, are a blue collar team. I do not expect them to succeed (which is how I keep my sanity), I only need them to try. No one tried harder than Johnny. Surabaya, Johnny. Ich liebe dich so.

Melo is just one of the best scorers the game has ever seen. With some of those old school Knicks playing with him I imagine defense would be a non-issue. Also the man can wear the hell out of a denim shirt.

And KP! Why not? Everyone's answers here have been correct but I choose The Future and Hope.

Pat, for me, is the greatest ever to wear the orange & blue. If you were too young to live through the Ewing era, I dunno what to say. Sorry? Having Pat meant that you would make the playoffs, always. We took that for granted. Imagine! I still think his consistent excellence is way under appreciated. And he was so serious that it was like a rainbow had come out the rare times he would smile and joke around.

And Latrell. I've told this story here before I think but I'll never forget watching Spree's first game with the Knicks and marveling: a player who runs? It had literally never occurred to me that it could be possible for the New York Knicks to play basketball anything but ponderously slowly. And I loved his beautiful wide set eyes and the tiny little bits of grey in his beard that made little points that looked like horns.


Alex

PG - Walt “Clyde” Frazier | SG - Earl “The Pearl” Monroe | SF- Carmelo Anthony | PF - Willis Reed | C - Patrick Ewing | 6th Man - Latrell Sprewell

Clyde is positively a no-brainer here. He’s got a case for being the best player in the history of the Knicks (mainly due to championship pedigree over Patrick Ewing) and leaving him out of the starting point guard spot would just feel dirty, like dusting off and eating a halal cart hot dog that fell out of the bun and landed on the floor of the NQR train. Or buying a suit with less than eight different fabric colors. I’m assuming that if this team could ever really be assembled with time machines and shit that there would be a single-elimination tournament for our viewing amusement, and nobody stepped up bigger than Clyde when the lights shined brightest.

Apologies to Allan Houston, Richie Guerin and John Starks at the shooting guard spot, but Pearl is my guy. Ever-so-crafty with the ball in his hands, in the modern NBA he could probably draw fouls at a Harden-esque level. I doubt Earl shot more than two shots from 3-point range in his entire career, but I bet he could learn.

Melo is just Melo, man. Easily the most talented player the Knicks have employed since Y2K (probably won’t be the case in two years, but I digress), and just a beautiful scorer. On an All-Star team like this, he’d reach Olympic Melo Supernova status and probably score 87 points in a game.

I’ll admit, I almost put Kristaps Porzingis in the starting PF spot. But he’s not there yet. Give it a few more years. Reed gets the nod here, the original Knick phenom. Is center his real position? Yeah, but there’s no need for a controversy here — just play Reed and Ewing together and watch opposing teams run away from the paint. Plus, I think I’d get struck by lightning or something if I left my P&T commenter namesake out of my starting five.

And then of course there’s Ewing, and the decision to start him at center does not need any defending.

Sprewell as my 6th man was probably the toughest choice for me. Plenty of good candidates — Starks, KP, Bernard King and even ’12-13 JR Smith come to mind. But I went with the heart here. The ’99 Knicks run to the Finals is what made me a Knicks fan as a 9-year-old, and Sprewell was the poster child for that mythical stretch of ball. I literally wore the soles off of my Sprewell And1 sneakers when I was 12. He’s my favorite Knick, and on top of it he would be a badass 6th man on this (or any) squad.


That’s all we got, folks! Who’s on your squad? Let’s have some hypothetical basketsports discussion in the comments.