This week’s segment of “Who Wore it Best” promises to be a bit more exhilarating than last week. It might even turn out to be one of the best yet pitting stars from different Knicks eras against one another.
Out of respect to Walt “Clyde” Frazier and other Knicks whose numbers grace the rafters, we will refrain from debating those legendary numbers that rightfully belong to them for eternity. Instead, we plan to express our admiration for these legends through dedicated appreciation pieces in the future.
Twenty-four players have worn the #11 for the Knicks. The list is deep with All-Stars, Hall of Famers, and several household names from multiple Knicks eras. Without further delay, let’s dive straight into this week’s edition of “Who Wore it Best? #11”
Harry “The Horse” Gallatin was a dominant force for the Knicks for nine seasons from 1948-1957. The Knicks drafted Gallatin with the 20th pick in the 1948 BAA Draft, which back then was just a second-round pick. Gallatin turned into becoming a 7x All-Star in consecutive years from 1951 to 1957.
Although he was an undersized center standing just 6’6”, Gallatin made up for his lack in height through his sheer strength. To try and put things into perspective for you just how good Gallatin was despite his height, think of Ben Wallace but 40 years before Ben Wallace ever stepped onto an NBA court. Through the 1949-50 season, the NBA didn’t keep track of rebounds. Once the league began at the start of the 1950-51 season, Gallatin immediately emerged as the best in the league, leading the league in rebounds six times.
Over the course of his 10-year career in the league, Gallatin averaged a double-double during each of the seven seasons he played in once the league began tracking rebounds. From 1952-1955 his rebounds per game average never dipped below 13 rebounds per game, and in the 1953-54 season he had a career year averaging 15.3 rebounds and 13.2 points per game.
His most impressive single game feat came during the 1952 season in which he set the Knicks record for most rebounds in a single game with 33, a record that still stands today.
After a 9-year career with the Knicks, Gallatin played his final season in the league with the Detroit Pistons in which he averaged 14.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. All in all, when Gallatin hung up his Chuck Taylor’s he had 682 career games under his belt with averages of 13 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.
Despite the Knicks’ dismal record year in and year out during Crawford’s tenure with the team from 2004-05 to 2008-09, Crawford’s dazzling crossover moves and scoring outbursts, including a career high 52 points in 2007, made him a fan favorite throughout the Garden.
Crawford started his career in Chicago wearing the #1. When the Knicks acquired him via trade, Crawford elected to wear #11 in honor of his childhood idol Isiah Thomas. His signature between-the-legs, behind-the-back crossover move delighted fans and electrified the Garden, whether it resulted in a deep three or a self-assisted off-the-backboard pass, culminating in a dunk and instant crowd eruption.
Notably, Crawford holds the NBA record for the most four-point plays. Along with Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, and Quentin Richardson the mid-2000 Knicks had a roster full of excitement but unfortunately that was not enough to turn it all into wins.
Ultimately, Crawford was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Al Harrington, but he remains a cherished figure among the All-Time Knicks roster.
Jalen Brunson becomes only the second current Knick to receive recognition in the “Who Wore it Best” segment, with IQ being the first (prior to the trade).
Brunson adds intrigue to this week’s discussion. Despite just a season and a half with the team, he has already established himself by far as the best player to wear the number for the Knicks, but is a season and a half enough to give him the title?
Since joining the Knicks in the 2022 offseason, Brunson wasted no time in shouldering the team’s responsibilities. Teaming up with Julius Randle, the duo quickly emerged as one of the league’s best dynamic pairs. In his debut season, Brunson posted impressive averages of 24 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game—a notable improvement from his previous year with the Mavericks, where he averaged 16 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds.
On January 9th, 2023, he scored a then-career-high 44 points. His progress and leadership in the Mecca catapulted him to instant league-wide recognition, earning him his first All-Star appearance.
This season Jalen has continued to elevate his game, increasing his numbers across the board. Through the first 41 games of this season, Brunson is averaging 26.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. On December 15th, Brunson erupted for 50 points shooting 9-for-9 from beyond the arc, tying an NBA record set by Latrell Sprewell, of all players, for the most threes in one game without a miss. His performance also set a league record for the most points in a game without a missed three-point attempt (min. 8 3PA). Brunson’s extraordinary performance not just put him in the NBA record books, it also placed his name right next to Michael Jordan’s as the first player since MJ (in 1988) to record at least 50 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and five steals in a single game.
Brunson’s scoring isn’t the only area where he has surpassed previous career highs. On New Year’s Day, he achieved a new career-best in single-game assists, providing 14 dimes during OG Anunoby’s Knicks debut. He followed that performance up with 13 assists just two nights later.
As the Knicks have been working hard to create a contender for years to come, the most important piece to the puzzle, the All-Star floor general that Knicks fans have desired for decades is finally at the helm of a playoff caliber team (and beyond?) for years to come.
Honorable Mentions: Bob McAdoo, Rod Strickland, Derek Harper
Who Wore it Best #11