A major selection of modern Knicks fans weren’t even born until long after Walt Clyde Frazier had retired and was well-known as the broadcaster who made the phrase ‘posting and toasting’ so very famous, so let’s travel back to 53 years ago this week, when he made his NBA debut.
Frazier, selected fifth overall in the same draft that featured Earl Monroe, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, is a top three player in franchise history alongside Patrick Ewing and Willis Reed. And those who were around when he was playing could easily try to argue he’s number one on the list.
But you wouldn’t know it based on the stat line from his first game as a Knick. Frazier’s inaugural performance, which came on Oct. 28, 1967 when he was a precocious 22-year-old neophyte, included just 2 points (1-8 from the field), plus 8 rebounds and 7 assists. The Knicks lost to the Detroit Pistons by 13.
Still, as you can see in the following clip, Frazier’s feline quickness and penchant for perfect passes could already be seen.
Frazier ultimately figured out how to drive and thrive during year one, which contributed to the Knicks improving to 43-39 overall. The previous season, they finished 36-45. At the end of his debut season, Frazier’s averages were 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game, good enough for a spot on the All-Rookie Team.
Much like most superstars, his statistics rose dramatically and emphatically and with an astounding and bounding pace; by the time his second season came around, he was the Knick with the knack, posting 17.5 points, 6 boards and 8 dimes. In year three, he averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, and the Knicks won their first ever title.
Frazier made seven All-Star teams, was named to an All-NBA team six times and made the All-Defensive squad seven times. He has two championships under his belt, and famously erupted for 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds in the game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, the very same night that Reed hobbled out of the tunnel to to take the tip-off against Wilt Chamberlain, in what is one of the most iconic plays in league history.
It can be easy to take Clyde for granted nowadays. His styling and profiling from the sidelines alongside Mike Breen has been the best part about being a Knicks fan since Ewing was traded, and it feels like he’ll be around forever. But fans — especially those who never got to see him play — should take care to appreciate his effervescence and omnipresence while we’ve got him.
And for goodness sake, enjoy some highlights from Frazier’s time as a Knick.