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Who Wore It Best? Knicks #2

Who is the Knicks Number One #2

New York Knicks’ Larry Johnson celebrates after hitting big Photo by Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Since 2014, any player who has worn the Knicks uniform has worn the number two on their jersey, marked by a subtle yet intricate #2 stitched into a small gold tag on the back collar. This detail pays homage to the two championships in Knicks history. While the Golden State Warriors have seen their gold number change four times since 2014, the Knicks have not won a championship in over 50 years, hence Miles McBride will once again not be the only Knick to have the #2 on his jersey this season.

Among the 17 players who wore #2 for the Knicks, only three players did so for three or more seasons. Oddly enough, ten players have worn it for just one season. Three of those ten players, Nate Robinson, Tim Thomas, and Landry Fields, all opted to change their original jersey numbers that Knicks fans had become accustomed to seeing them in, to the #2 for one lone and, ironically, final season with the team. (Note: Tim Thomas wore #5 during his initial 2004 stint with the Knicks. When he returned in 2008, #5 was taken by Anthony Roberson, so he flipped it upside-down to a #2.)

ln the case of Greg Anthony, who wore #2 during his rookie campaign, he changed away from the number, reverting to his former college number, #50, prior to the 1992 season. While there have been numerous one-season stints for the #2, there were also three Knicks fan favorites from different eras who sported it for more than a cup of coffee: Rory Sparrow, Larry Johnson, and Raymond Felton. We can only hope that Miles McBride reads this article and requests a number change before it’s too late.

Rory Sparrow: Among all the players who have donned the #2 jersey in Knicks history, some Knicks fans, especially those who cherish the Knicks of the 80’s era, might argue that #2 should go to Rory Sparrow. After all, Sparrow wore it for five-plus seasons, totaling precisely 370 games, which is the most of any Knick to wear #2.

Throughout his 12-year career, Sparrow averaged 9 PPG and 5 APG. The pinnacle of Sparrow’s career was in 1983-84. Teamed up with Bernard King and Bill Cartwright, Sparrow led the Knicks in assists and games played which helped carry the team to an impressive 47-35 record. Led by Bernard King’s incredible 42 PPG and Sparrow’s impressive 8.4 APG, the Knicks managed to defeat the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1984 NBA Playoffs.

Unfortunately, their playoff journey came to an end in a 7-game series against the eventual NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics. In the second round, Sparrow continued his strong performance, averaging 11.2 PPG against the Celtics.

Sparrow stuck around the NBA through the 1991-92 season, finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He played for a total of seven NBA teams but will forever be remembered for his tenure with the Knicks.

Larry Johnson: LJ should be the popular choice here. Johnson became a league-wide fan favorite after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets first overall in 1991. Though listed at 6’7”, Johnson stood closer to 6’5”. Through the combination of his speed, strength, and ultimate brute force, LJ was unlike any other athlete the NBA had seen at the time.

Recognizable by his signature gold tooth, and middle-parted high fade, LJ had a style all his own. He became the face of Converse and developed the alter-ego known as “Grandmama” for his signature shoe commercials. In the summer of ‘96 the Knicks acquired Johnson in exchange for Anthony Mason and Brad Lohaus.

Despite his back injuries preventing him from delivering the thunderous tomahawk slam dunks fans were accustomed to seeing on a nightly basis, Johnson emerged as a crucial figure in the locker room and on the court, earning the role of tri-captain alongside Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. However, it was during Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals that Johnson created one of the most iconic moments in New York Knicks history.

Trailing 91-88 with 11.9 seconds left, the Knicks were setting up an in-bounds play for one last attempt to tie the game with a three-pointer. What they got was one more historical point than they originally sought after. As Johnson leaped for an errant inbounds pass from Charlie Ward deflected by Jalen Rose, Antonio Davis picked him up on the left wing approximately eight feet behind the three-point line.

As the clock ticked down, Johnson attempted to get Davis to bite on a series of foot jabs. With those failing, Johnson finally got Davis to take the bait on a head fake and leaped into the air on the pump fake. Johnson took one dribble to the left, pulled up and caught Davis’s forearm on his way to releasing a very long three. With a quick whistle by the referee, and the ball still mid-flight, everything and everyone in the Garden just froze but the ball, as it made its final descent towards the bottom of the net.

The Garden crowd erupted, shaking the cameraman’s camera so vigorously that it created an illusion that the entire arena was quaking. An exuberant Johnson was met at mid-court by Chris Childs to settle down his excitement and remind him that he still needed to make the free throw before celebrating anything. As Johnson went to the free throw line, the deafening screams had gone silent for a short moment as Johnson took and made his shot to re-start the celebration and earn the Knicks the victory.

LJ continued to serve the Knicks as a captain for two more seasons before his back forced him to retire after a decade in the NBA. Nonetheless, his 4-point play remains one of the most unforgettable moments in Knicks history and stands as the most significant 4-point play in NBA history.

Raymond Felton: If it takes two to make a think go right, then Raymond Felton was that guy to make things go right alongside Amar’e Stoudemire during the 2010-11 season. The dynamic duo of Amar’e and Felton though was unfortunately short-lived due to the Knicks selling Felton high mid-way through the season as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Prior to the Carmelo trade, Felton was on track for a career-best season, posting averages of 17.1 points and nine assists in his first 54 games as a Knick, all of which he started. He also achieved personal bests in field goals made, field goals attempted, as well as three-pointers made and attempted. Even though Knicks fans were unable to see this 1-2 punch all the way through to the end, Amar’e and Felton revitalized the team and re-energized the Garden crowd, marking the first time in almost a decade that the Knicks reached the playoffs (since 2003-04) and achieve a winning record (since 2001-02).

Notable Mentions: Monty Williams, Keith Van Horn, Langston Galloway, Miles McBride.

As this brings us to the end of this week’s segment of Who Wore it Best #2, now it’s your turn to chime in with your opinions in the comments section and cast your vote. There’s no right or wrong answer, which keeps us right where we started: the eternal question of who wore it best.

Deuces! (Get it?!)


Who Wore It Best? #2

  • 7%
    Rory Sparrow
    (11 votes)
  • 81%
    Larry Johnson
    (122 votes)
  • 5%
    Raymond Felton
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Langston Galloway
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Miles McBride
    (9 votes)
150 votes total Vote Now