Ron Baker, a gritty and serviceable basketballer whose NBA ceiling is beneath the roof, made his final sacrifice for the New York Knicks this week when he was waived in order to make room on the roster for undrafted rookie sensation Allonzo Trier.
Baker, best known for his luxurious locks of golden hair that flow like the Trevi Fountain in Rome, appeared in 92 total games over three seasons with the Knicks and averaged 3.3 points, 1.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per contest, according to a statement from the Knicks public relations team.
New York Knicks waive Ron Baker pic.twitter.com/Q7pLBBt4l8— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 13, 2018
He meant more to Knicks fans than that statline would suggest, however. Baker’s underwhelming size — he’s listed at 6’4” and 220 pounds — combined with his never-ending effort on both ends of the floor, ensured him a spot on the list of players that Knicks fans couldn’t help but fawn over.
His hair also had something to do with all the fawning.
The fact that Baker had to be released so Trier could be retained actually makes a lot of sense, as Baker is the definition of a player’s player. During his time with the Knicks, Baker could routinely be found focusing on making the perfect entry pass, shooting when he was open and rarely when he was not, or diving on the floor for loose balls. Last season, Baker was third on the Knicks in deflections, according to stats.NBA.com, and in his rookie season he was fourth on the team. He’s the type of guy who you praise for being among the team leaders in deflections.
Baker is a man of many nicknames, including “The Bucket Maker” and “Ron Burgundy,” the latter of which refers to Will Ferrell’s hilarious character from Anchorman and was unveiled to the world during a halftime interview in early 2017 when Carmelo Anthony casually referred to Baker as “Burgundy.”
Baker once told the New York Post that he has about 15 nicknames. Others include “Kansas,” which is where he hails from, as well as “Bake,” “Birddog,” “Wolverine” and “Logan,” according to a Reddit AMA Baker did during his rookie season. Importantly, during that AMA, Baker revealed that he uses Dove MenCare Shampoo to keep his locks in line.
Baker once tried (and failed) to make a dunk difficult for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, and in return received three stitches and a fractured orbital bone that forced him to miss some time.
He wore the scars from that play with a sense of pride.
When he returned, Baker played with one of those face masks that were first brought into the mainstream by Detroit Pistons shooting guard Richard “Rip” Hamilton and have since been kept in the limelight by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook, among others.
Baker was one of those Knicks who would receive chants of “we want Baker” from the Madison Square Garden faithful when he had not yet played and a game was nearing its end. Baker was so beloved that at times he would receive MVP chants when taking free throws at MSG, and while fans knew he was not da real MVP, it was a way to show how much we cared.
While he didn’t always get into games, Baker never showed any frustration. Instead, he fulfilled his role as the perfect end-of-bench guy who knew exactly how to celebrate a teammate’s successful play in order to create a phenomenal GIF.
While he was expendable, especially so the Knicks could keep Trier, Baker will always live on in the hearts and minds of Knicks fans everywhere. Fare-thee-well Ron Baker, and good luck wherever you land. We’ll always root for you, except when you play against the Knicks.