Carl Braun, who starred for the Knickerbockers starting in the late 1940s and was an All-Star selection five straight times in the 1950s, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend, almost a decade after his death.
Braun’s posthumous induction came by way of the Veterans Committee, which is made up of former players who have been retired for at least 35 years. Braun, who died in 2010 at 82 years old, is part of a group of inductees that is headlined by Vlade Divac, Sidney Moncrief and Jack Sikma and includes WNBA and New York Liberty legend Teresa Weatherspoon, along with the likes of Al Attles, Chuck Cooper, Bobby Jones and Paul Westphal, according to a statement from the NBA.
While this story is a celebration of Braun, we’d be remiss to not give props to Weatherspoon, one of the founding ladies of the WNBA who valiantly tried to lead the Liberty to the promised land and one time hit a half court heave at the buzzer to win a finals game.
The new inductees will be officially enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts during a ceremony on Sept. 6.
Many modern Knicks fans were born years after Braun’s career had concluded, and the ‘Bockers of about a decade after his retirement are the ones who won championships, so he is not as well known as other great players like Willis Reed or Walt Clyde Frazier. Thus, it’s only right that we take a look at Braun’s life and career and celebrate his inclusion among the best basketballers to ever play the game.
His life before the Knicks
Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Braun played both basketball and baseball as a young man, and actually wound up having a fleeting stint in the New York Yankees’ minor league farm system before an arm injury caused him to refocus his efforts on basketball, according to Braun’s obituary in the New York Times from February 2010.
He played college basketball at Colgate University from 1945 to 1947, where he tore up the hardwood with Ernie Vandeweghe, who would also go on to play for the Knicks. Braun is actually one of 11 Colgate alumni who have played in the NBA, with the most recent player being Adonal Foyle, selected in 1998 by the Golden State Warriors.
Braun’s career as a ‘Bocker
It didn’t take long for the 6’5”, 180 pound guard to establish himself as a professional basketball player, as his career high of 47 points was set during his rookie season of 1947-48, when the Knicks were still a member of the Basketball Association of America, which would go on to merge with the NBA in 1949.
When Braun’s career started, the Knicks still played some of their games at the 69th Regiment Armory court at Lexington Avenue and 25th street because the team was not guaranteed to always fill the old Madison Square Garden, per the NYT.
In 740 games with the Knicks over 12 seasons, Braun averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists. He missed two seasons in the middle of his athletic prime because he was serving in the U.S. military, and made the All-Star team every year from 1953 to 1957.
He led the Knicks in scoring in each of his first seven seasons, and teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Dick McGuire to lead to the Knicks to a decade of playoff runs.
The Knicks made the postseason 11 times during Braun’s career, and in 34 postseason games with the team he averaged 15.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest. The team made the finals three times with Braun, although they never got over the hump and won the whole thing.
His Knicks career ended in a super old-timey fashion, as Braun was both a player and a coach for roughly one and a half seasons. As a player-coach, Braun’s record was 40-87. There’s a reason we don’t see player-coaches anymore, folks.
The first half of Braun’s career came before the 24-second shot clock forced teams to speed the game up, which makes it somewhat remarkable that he currently sits in fifth place on the all-time Knicks scoring list with 10,449 points.
What came after the Knicks
Unfortunately for us, Braun joined the Boston Celtics for one season, but fortunately for Braun, it was the 1961-62 season, which is one of the many times the Celtics won the NBA championship. At the time he joined the Celtics, Braun was the all-time leading scorer for the Knicks.
In 48 games for the Celtics, Braun averaged just under 9 minutes per game, so his stats are nothing to write home about. His playing time dropped to exactly 7 minutes per game in the playoffs, when Braun averaged 4.2 points on almost 5 shots per contest.
After he retired, Braun became a stockbroker on Wall Street, and he eventually moved to Florida where he enjoyed the rest of his days. Braun becomes the 21st player with ties to the Knicks to make the Hall of Fame, per basketball.realgm.com, although there are a few people on that list — looking at you Jason Kidd and Tracy McGrady — who weren’t exactly Knicks lifers.
Braun’s jersey may not hang in the MSG rafters, but there’s no question that he was one of the best Knicks to ever do it. Posthumous congratulations are clearly in order, and hopefully one day Braun will be joined by a Knick or two who either currently plays for the team or will soon.