This week’s installment of Who Wore it Best shifts the spotlight to #13. As we did with the #10, we are respectfully skipping over #12 in honor of the late great Dick Barnett. A total of fifteen players have worn the #13 for the Knicks, making it the smallest pool of players to choose from among the numbers we’ve examined so far. While the roster boasts several noteworthy names, a #13 Knick has made just one All-Star game in franchise history.
Although the Knicks were one of the league’s original eleven teams who debuted with the league in 1946, the #13 would not see the light of day in New York City until 1978 when Ray Williams became the first Knick to don the number. To make this week’s pool of players even thinner, of the 15 players to wear the number, eight of them wore it for just one season or less.
Ray Williams: Williams was drafted by the Knicks in 1977 with the 10th overall pick ahead of future Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld, and future NBA All-Stars Rickey Green, Norm Nixon, and Eddie Johnson. Despite putting up All-Star caliber numbers for three consecutive seasons from the 1979-80 season through the 1981-82 season, Williams never received an All-Star nod. During those three seasons, he averaged 20.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. His stellar all-around play for the Knicks earned him the role of team captain prior to the start of the 1980 season. Williams also played a pivotal role in leading the team to two playoff appearances during his reign in New York.
On October 25, 1981, the Knicks sent Williams across the GWB to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Maurice Lucas. That same season in April 1982 as a member of the Nets, Williams scored a career-high 52 points. On March 22, 2013 (oddly enough) Williams passed away at the young age of 58 from colon cancer.
Mark Jackson: The most notable name and accomplished player on this list, Mark Jackson, is still considered by many Knicks fans today as one of the greatest point guards in franchise history. Others, including myself, will always perceive him however as one of the many Knicks villains of the ‘90s who alongside Reggie Miller taunted my ‘90s Knicks for several years. “Action Jackson” was drafted 10th overall by the Knicks in 1987, instantly giving the Knicks a big three as Jackson joined forces with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. During his rookie year, Jackson averaged a double-double of 13.6 points and 10.6 assists per game. Jackson went on to win Rookie of the Year honors becoming the lowest draft pick since 1958, and the first non-lottery pick to achieve the honor. Jackson had his best season his sophomore season averaging 16.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, and earned his one and only All-Star game appearance of his career. Interestingly enough, Jackson’s lone All-Star appearance serves as the only time that a New York Knick made an All-Star team while wearing the #13. Despite winning Rookie of the Year in 1988, and then making All-Star team during his second year, his performance on the court significantly began to decline, the following season, which was just his third year in the league. As his decline and conditioning began to waiver, in addition to the growing competition for playing time from backup Rod Strickland, Jackson’s role with the Knicks began to diminish significantly. By the time the 1991 season came around, Jackson found himself in Los Angeles Clippers red and white.
Everything came full circle for Jackson and the Knicks when the Knicks re-acquired Jackson from the Toronto Raptors in 2001. Upon his arrival, the #13 had already been in use by center Luc Longley. Jackson elected to reverse the only number he had ever worn during his career and played out the remaining 29 games of the 2000-01 season wearing #31, before ultimately reverting back to #13 for the 2001-02 season. Although we are not there just yet, Jackson is an early favorite to win WWIB #31 with the short list of Jerome Williams and Malik Rose serving as any competition for the top spot, but we still have some time until we get there. Oddly enough Malik Rose, like Jackson, wore both #13 and #31 for the Knicks making for a very good trivia question of “Which two numbers were both worn by the same two Knicks, and what were those numbers?”
Evan Fournier: While Evan Fournier may currently find himself in Coach Thibodeau’s doghouse, he certainly hasn’t fallen out of favor with us. Fournier has etched his name into the Knicks’ record books, holding the single-season record for most three-pointers, surpassing John Starks’ previous mark set in 1995. Admittedly, if Starks were playing in the current era, he might have found himself on the NBA’s all-time list—a debate for another day. Fournier joined the Knicks in 2021, and in his inaugural season with the team, he posted solid numbers, averaging 14.1 points per game with an impressive .463 three-point field goal percentage. Notably, in January 2022, Fournier scored a career high of 41 points with 10 threes, and eight rebounds.
With the ability to put up these numbers, one can’t help but wonder why Thibs has him riding the pine pony, having appeared in just three games this season. Moreover, he finds himself at the center of Knicks trade discussions as the trade deadline approaches.
Honorable Mentions: Luc Longley, Malik Rose, Joakim Noah
Up next week is #14. Any guesses on who that segment will focus around?
Who Wore it Best #13?