This week’s segment of “Who Wore it Best” seems rather meaningless if we didn’t make it a little bit more challenging for our readers. Unquestionably, Carmelo Anthony stands as the preeminent Knick to ever don the number, leaving little room for debate and an anticipated 100% vote in his favor. Recognizing this, we opt to infuse a bit of intrigue by rebranding this week’s segment as “Who Wore it (Second) Best.”
The #7 jersey has adorned a total of 26 different Knicks, with 13 players wearing it for a solitary season or less. Between 1994-98, there were five different players to wear the number. For those Knick aficionados eager to showcase their Knicks knowledge, I extend a challenge: Can you name these five players in chronological order in the comments section? (No cheating, we’re all on the honor system).
Additionally, this week’s segment features a secondary poll seeking your opinion on whether the Knicks should retire the #7 jersey in honor of Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks, unlike some other teams, adhere to one of the most stringent and relatively mysterious criteria for achieving this honor. In no disrespect to some of these other teams and individuals, but if the Sacrament Kings retired Vlade Divac’s number, the Utah Jazz retired Jeff Hornacek, and Mark Eaton’s numbers, and the Cleveland Cavs retired Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s number, how does Melo, and John Starks for that matter, receive the honor of seeing their numbers living up in the Garden rafters.
Numerous players across the league have deeply impacted their cities without achieving superstar status (as exemplified by Udonis Haslem in Miami) and receiving this special accolade. However, apart from Patrick Ewing, no other Knick has had their number retired post the 1970s championship era. I still feel John Starks should have his #3 right alongside Ewing’s, but that debate is for another time.
Carmelo Anthony undeniably held the mantle of being the Knicks superstar from 2011 to 2017, emerging as the quintessential Knick of today’s generation. Melo was a seven-time All-Star while with the team, and holds the individual record for most points scored in a single game. The counterargument revolves around the limited postseason success Melo experienced during his tenure with the team, losing 14 of 20 playoff games. Despite the lack of postseason success in addition to his rough breakup with the team, Carmelo remains one of the most cherished Knicks of all time. Until the day comes that his #7 is hanging up in the rafters, the lingering question will forever persist.
Now back to business. Who Wore it (Second) Best #7?
In addition to voting in each poll, let us know your thoughts in the comments section on why you voted Yes or No.
Should the New York Knicks retire Carmelo Anthony’s #7?
Dean Meminger: Dean Meminger played a crucial role as a key contributor during the Knicks’ championship season of 1972-73. While his statistics may not have been eye-catching, it’s important to note that he occupied the fourth spot on the depth chart, standing behind All-Star guards Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, and Dick Barnett. Despite being in a supporting role, Meminger led the 1973 championship team in field goal percentage throughout the ‘73 playoffs, boasting an impressive .554 FG%.
Kenny Walker: Kenny “Sky” Walker, selected 5th overall by the Knicks in the 1986 NBA draft, initially sported the #34 jersey before eventually transitioning to the number that would become synonymous with him among Knicks fans— the #7. That is because in 1989, after having already made the switch from #34 to #7, “Sky” Walker lived up to his nickname and became the first Knick in team history to win the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
Although the era of Champion replica jerseys were still a few years away from relevancy during Walker’s time as a Knick, it’s almost certain that had Walker played just a few years later, the Garden would have been filled with numerous #7 Sky Walker jerseys on any given night. His distinctive high-top fade and a highlight reel of mesmerizing dunks endeared him to the Garden faithful, and he is fondly remembered to this day as one of the greatest dunkers in the franchise’s history.
Al Harrington: Before Carmelo joined the Knicks, the #7 belonged to Al Harrington. Despite Harrington’s tenure with the Knicks lasting less than two full seasons, he stood out as the team leader on a roster devoid of true superstar talent. In the 2008-09 season, Harrington, starting in 51 of the 68 games played, emerged as the leading scorer for the team, averaging an impressive 20.9 points per game.
The following season witnessed changes in the Knicks’ lineup with the departure of Zach Randolph and the rise of David Lee. Harrington adapted to a new role as the team’s sixth man, appearing in 72 games and starting in just 15. Despite a reduction in playing time by 5 minutes per game, Harrington maintained a notable scoring average of 17.7 points per game, securing the second-highest position behind only Lee. Following the conclusion of that season, Harrington opted to sign as a free agent with the Denver Nuggets.
Honorable Mention: Channing Frye
Who Wore it (Second) Best #7
Kenny "Sky" Walker