Since 1946, hundreds of players have donned the Knicks’ orange and blue. Some have faded into obscurity, while others have left an indelible mark on our memories in their Knicks uniform. While there is no debate about who wore #33 or #19 best, there are endless disagreements amongst Knicks fans, most likely rooted in the era of their youth, over which Knick wore it best. Who truly owns #3? Starks or Marbury? And what about #15, retired for both Earl Monroe and Dick McGuire?
Let the debates commence. As we embark on a new segment here at P&T, it’s fitting to begin with #1. So, Knicks fans, who wore it best?
Chris Childs: In 1996, the Knicks needed a new starting point guard after Derek Harper returned to the Dallas Mavericks that same summer. They didn’t have to look much further than across the George Washington Bridge to sign Chris Childs away from the New Jersey Nets as the floor general of the new look Knicks. Childs started a career-high 61 games during his first season with the Knicks, leading the team in assists with 6.1 assists per game. He spent over four years of his career with the Knicks, primarily serving as Charlie Ward’s backup from 1997-2001. However, Childs will forever be remembered by NBA fans for his on-court boxing match with Kobe Bryant in April 2000, connecting with a one-two punch to Kobe’s chin, earning him a $15,000 fine and a two-game suspension.
Amar’e Stoudemire: Undoubtedly the top choice for most Knicks fans, Amar’e joined the Knicks in 2010. Having worn the #32 during his first three seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Stoudemire switched to #1 before the 2006-07 season. The Knicks acquired Amar’e as one of the highly sought-after superstars of the 2010 free agency class. During his 4 ½ years with the Knicks, Amar’e was voted a starter for the 2011 Eastern All-Star team and earned two All-NBA 2nd Team honors. Injuries would eventually plague most of Amar’e’s final two years with the team, but there isn’t a Knicks fan who can deny that he lived up to his declaration of “The Knicks Are Back” upon his arrival in the summer of 2010. During his first season as a Knick, Stoudemire shouldered the team’s fortunes, averaging 25.3 PPG and 9.1 RPG, leading the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04. That 2010-11 season also marked the Knicks’ first winning record since 2001-02.
Obi Toppin: The most recent #1 for the Knicks was drafted by the team in 2020 as the eighth overall pick. The former college player of the year will be sorely missed this year. Over his three-year tenure with the Knicks, Toppin primarily served as Julius Randle’s backup. Toppin’s signature between-the-leg breakaway slam dunks were often used to put an exclamation point on a Knicks victory and earned him two consecutive invites to participate in the NBA’s annual Slam Dunk Contest. Showcasing a variety of between-the-leg, and behind-the-back slams, Toppin won the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk contest, becoming the first Knick to do so since Nate Robinson in 2010.
And there you have it, Knicks fans. Round One, #1, is in the books, with over 60 more numbers to discuss. Now, it’s your turn to tell us who you believe wore #1 for the Knicks the best and why. There’s no definitive answer, which keeps us right where we started: the eternal question of who wore it best.
Who Wore It Best? #1