Fun fact: The #5 has been worn by more Knicks than any other number in franchise history. A total of 28 players have worn the number. Three of those individuals all wore the number in the same inaugural 1947 season. Ironically, of the 28 who have worn the number, there isn’t one player who comes to mind first if you asked me to name the first Knick who I associate with wearing the number.
Now, before I get chewed up in the comments, yes, I am fully aware that Immanuel Quickley wears the #5. Let’s be honest, though: most Knicks fans, if they were to answer that question and give Quickley as the response, are most likely doing so from a top-of-mind perspective, as he’s the most recent and relevant person.
Sure, any Knicks fan could argue that the nod should go to Jason Kidd. But should it though? He wore it for only one season, during the last year of his career, in which he averaged just six points and five assists per game. So, if you are going with Kidd, you clearly are going with the household name who has just 76 career games under his belt as a New York Knick. Well, you might ask, what about Jalen Rose? Like Kidd, Rose is another household name who had a short tenure with the Knicks at the tail end of his career. Over the course of just 26 games with the Knicks, Rose averaged 12 points per game, two rebounds, and two assists per game. At the end of the day, it can’t possibly be him.
This is going to be a fun one that I hope leads to lengthy debates in the comments section. Considering my last prediction of Nate Robinson walking home with #4 wasn’t even close—Carl Braun took those honors by a significant margin—I’m not going to make a true prediction beyond my assumption that Quickley will garner the most votes. This week’s segment will be done slightly differently than the previous four segments of WWIB, as there are more names to call out across a pretty level playing field and thus more names will be highlighted with a toned-down approach to their bios.
In chronological order of Knick notable #5’s:
Dick Van Arsdale: Van Arsdale was not the first Knick to wear the #5. In fact, there were 12 players who wore the number before he did from 1966-68. Arsdale was taken by the Knicks during the second round of the 1965 NBA draft and would receive All-Rookie team honors that season, in which he averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. His second season in the league was even more impressive, averaging 15.1 points, seven rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. When the Phoenix Suns joined the NBA in 1968, they chose him as their first overall expansion pick. Van Arsdale would go on to playing nine years with the Suns, making the All-Star team three times. During his first three seasons with the Suns, Van Arsdale averaged 21 or more points per game. When Van Arsdale retired in 1977, he finished his career with 15,079 points, 3,807 rebounds, and 3,057 assists, which earned him the honor of having his #5 retired by the Suns as part of their Ring of Honor. If only the Knicks had protected him, perhaps his number would be up in the Garden rafters, along with his would-have-been teammates who won two championships within five years after his departure.
Tim Thomas: After Jim McMillan in 1978, no other Knick wore the #5 until Tim Thomas wore the number in 2003. With #5 being the most worn number in franchise history, it’s shocking that the number went un-worn for more than two decades during two iconic eras of Knicks basketball. Thomas had two stints with the team from 2003 through 2005, and then again, a shorter 31 game stint during the 2008-09 season. During his first stint with the team, Thomas wore #5, whereas during his second stint he opted for #2, because the #5 was already taken that season by Randolph Morris. During his first stint with the Knicks, Thomas established himself as one of the key role players during the Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford era. In 95 total games, 91 of them as a starter, Thomas averaged 13.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Prior to the 2005-06 season Thomas was traded to Chicago as part of the deal that brought Eddy Curry to the organization.
Jalen Rose: For today’s younger generation of fans who primarily know Jalen Rose as a color commentator, NBA analyst, and podcast host, it might be surprising to learn just how accomplished he was as a professional basketball player. Before being selected 13th overall in the 1994 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets, Rose gained fame as a member of Michigan’s Fab Five. In his freshman season, he led the team in scoring and set a school record for the most points by a freshman. Rose, a silky-smooth lefty, spent a significant portion of his career with the Indiana Pacers and played a pivotal role in guiding the team to the 2000 NBA Finals during the 1999-00 season. Following a trade to the Bulls in 2001, he had a standout year in Chicago, serving as the team’s leader and averaging 23.8 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. In that season, he achieved his career-high of 44 points. Midway through the 2005 season, Rose was acquired by the Knicks from the Toronto Raptors before the trade deadline. In the remaining 26 games of the season, which marked his second-to-last year in the league, Rose averaged 12 points per game. After that season, he signed with Phoenix for his final campaign. Despite his impressive playing career, Rose has become an even more prominent household name today as a TV personality.
- 10x All Star
- 5x All-NBA First Team.
- 4x NBA All-Defensive Team.
- 5x NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
- 1995 Co-Rookie of the Year.
- 5x NBA Assists Leader
- 107 Career Triple Doubles (4th All-Time)
- NBA 75th Anniversary Team
- 2011 NBA Champion
- NBA Hall of Famer
This is quite a lengthy list of accomplishments and accolades over the course of a 19 year career. The only issue, as it pertains to Knicks fans, is that none of Jason Kidd’s accomplishments were earned as a member of the New York Knicks. Like many Hall of Fame legends who become synonymous with one or two organizations, retiring after a solitary season with a team that most people have forgotten they ever played for, Kidd fits that profile. Undoubtedly, Kidd stands as one of the greatest players to have ever don a Nets uniform. Considering that Dr. J never played for the Nets of the NBA, one could argue that Kidd is the greatest Net of all time. In July 2012, Kidd signed with the Knicks, marking his final year in the league. Even at the age of 39, he made a significant impact for the Knicks by starting in 48 of the 76 games he appeared. The 2012 Knicks concluded the season with 54 wins, showing an 18-game improvement from the prior season and achieving the team’s first 50-win season since 2000. Although the Knicks advanced to the second round of the playoffs, Kidd’s wear and tear caught up with him, leading to an inability to make a field goal over his last 10 playoff games. Shortly after the conclusion of the Knicks’ season, Kidd announced his retirement.
Tim Hardaway Jr.: THJ has had an interesting career since getting drafted by the Knicks in 2013. Stepping into the league with the weight of his father’s Hall of Fame legacy hanging over him, Hardaway Jr. managed to make an immediate impact for the team, earning NBA All-Rookie first team honors. After the Knicks traded Hardaway to Atlanta, the Hawks anticipated acquiring a future All-Star leader, but experienced a different outcome. Hardaway spent two seasons with the Hawks, including two stints of bouncing back and forth between the NBA and the G-League. His first year with the Hawks fell short of expectations, averaging only six points per game. However, the subsequent season showcased a significant improvement as he upped his average to over 14 points per game. His stellar improvement led to the Knicks offering THJ a 4-year contract worth $71 million. Over the next year and a half as member of the Knicks, Hardaway averaged over 18 points per game; however, during his second stint with the team, he wore #3, which automatically disqualifies those statistics from being allowed to be considered for this debate.
Two and a half years into his new contract with the Knicks, Hardaway was shipped off to Dallas along with Kristaps Porzingis. Hardaway has since achieved great personal success on the court. He has become one of the Mavericks most consistent role players over the past six seasons, never averaging under 14 points, and three rebounds per game, with most of his appearances coming from off the bench.
Immanuel Quickley: Since the Knicks acquired Quickley on a draft night deal with the OKC Thunder, Quickley has emerged as one of the Knicks’ most reliable players. Since his rookie campaign, in which he averaged 11.4 points per game, his numbers have improved year over year. At the time of the release of this article Quickley is averaging 16 points per game in 16 appearances off the bench as Jalen Brunson’s backup. In those 16 games, Quickley has scored more than 20 points on four occasions, appearing in more than 30 minutes during just one of those games.
Although Quickley has only 27 career starts to his résumé, there are far more games in which he has played a pivotal role for the Knicks closing out games during close fourth-quarter scenarios. Last season, he finished second in the voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. The Knicks organization let down many Knicks fans this past summer when they were unable to come to terms with Quickley to sign an extension to his rookie deal. By not signing an extension this off-season with the team, Quickley will become a restricted free agent this summer. This questionable move by the Knicks will undoubtedly come back to hurt them, as they could have retained him for much less than what he will go for next summer. Quickley is sure to garner a lot of attention and offers worth a lot of money; money the Knicks will most likely be unable or unwilling to match, leaving a major void off the bench next season.
Honorable Mentions: Bill Walker, Courtney Lee, Dennis Smith Jr.
Who Wore It Best? #5
Dick Van Arsdale
Tim Hardaway Jr.