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Category Archives: New York Knicks

NBA Championship – 1972-’73 Topps #68

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ImageThe 1972 NBA World Championship Series was played at the conclusion of the 1971–72 NBA season. The Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference Champion New York Knicks in five games. The Los Angeles Lakers got their first NBA championship since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis. This season’s edition of the Los Angeles Lakers had won a NBA-record 69 regular season games, including 33 wins in a row. They were led by Wilt Chamberlain, the NBA’s top rebounder and shot blocker that season. Guards Gail Goodrich and Jerry West were each among the NBA’s top ten scorers that season, spearheading the NBA’s top offense at 121 points per game. West also led the NBA in assists. The Lakers as a team led all NBA teams in rebounds and assists that season. Los Angeles had swept a solid 57-win Chicago Bulls team in the playoff’s opening round, then defeated the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks who won 63 games in six games to win the Western Conference. That historic series had matched Chamberlain against Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and West against Oscar Robertson. ImageHaving defeated tough Milwaukee, 48-win New York figured to be an easy formality for the Lakers. New York was a top defensive team that allowed just 98.2 points per game and made 47% of their shots as a team.[1] Then had defeated 38-win Baltimore Bullets and then upset the 56-win Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference final. Television: ABC – Keith Jackson and Bill Russell announcing.

NBA All-Stars Dave De Busschere – 1972-’73 Topps #30

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ImageDavid Albert DeBusschere (October 16, 1940 – May 14, 2003) was an American NBA and major league baseball player and coach in the NBA. In 1996, DeBusschere was named as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. DeBusschere was drafted by the Detroit Pistons out of the University of Detroit in 1962 as a territorial draft selection. During his rookie season he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and was later named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. However, DeBusschere was injured during his second season and only played in 15 games, resulting in the Pistons finishing with a record of 23-59. In the 1964-1965 season, at the age of 24, he was given the position of player-coach for the Pistons, and became the youngest-ever coach in league history. This stint as coach was not successful and he became a full-time player. During the 1968-1969 season, DeBusschere was traded to the New York Knicks for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives. DeBusschere spent his best years in New York. He became one of the most talented and feared players in the league. He played a physical game on both ends of the floor, often ending the season as one of the league’s best rebounders. DeBusschere retired in 1974. His #22 jersey was retired by the Knicks, Imagethough not until many years after his retirement; it is thought the delay was due to DeBusschere’s taking a front-office job with the rival New York Nets (now New Jersey Nets) of the then-American Basketball Association upon his retirement. In 1962 DeBusschere was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent. He was pitcher for the Chicago White Sox from 1962-63. He pitched a shutout on August 13, 1963, against the Cleveland Indians, giving up six hits, one walk and striking out three. In May 2003, Dave DeBusschere collapsed on a Manhattan street when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 62 years of age. DeBusschere is interred at Saint Joseph’s Church Cemetery in Garden City, Nassau County, New York.

Phil Jackson – 1972-’73 Topps #71

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Philip Douglas “Phil” Jackson  (born September 17, 1945) is a retired American professional basketball coach and former player. Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association. His reputation was established as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998; during his tenure, Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010. In total, Jackson has won 11 NBA titles as a coach, surpassing the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach. He holds the record for the most championships in NBA history as a player and a head coach, after breaking the tie with Bill Russell when the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2009 NBA Finals. Jackson was a player on the 1970 and 1973 NBA champion New York Knicks. In 1996, as part of celebrations for the National Basketball Association’s 50th anniversary, Jackson was named one of the 10 greatest coaches in league history.
In 1967, Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks. While he was a good all-around athlete, with unusually long arms, he was limited offensively and compensated with intelligence and hard work on defense. Jackson eventually established himself as a fan favorite and one of the NBA’s leading substitutes. He was a top reserve on the Knicks team that won the NBA title in 1973. Jackson missed being part of New York’s 1970 championship season due to spinal fusion surgery; however, he authored a book entitled “Take It All,” a photo diary of the Knicks’ 1970 Championship run. Soon after the 1973 title, several key starters retired, creating an opening for Jackson in the starting lineup. In the 1974-75 NBA season, Jackson and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Bob Dandridge shared the lead for total personal fouls, with 330 each. Jackson lived in Leonia, New Jersey during this time. After going across the Hudson in 1978 to play two seasons for the New Jersey Nets, he retired from play in 1980.

Earl Monroe – 1972-’73 Topps #142


Vernon Earl Monroe (born November 21, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American former professional basketball player known for his flamboyant dribbling, passing, and play-making. He was nicknamed “Earl the Pearl”. From an early age, Monroe was a playground legend. His high school teammates at John Bartram High School called him “Thomas Edison” because of the many moves he invented. Monroe rose to prominence at a national level while playing basketball at then Division II Winston-Salem State University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Under the coaching of Hall of Fame coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, Monroe averaged 7.1 points his freshman year, 23.2 points as a sophomore, 29.8 points as a junior and an amazing 41.5 points his senior year. In 1967, he earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year honors and led the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship.
In 1971, Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks and formed what was known as the “Rolls Royce Backcourt” with the equally flamboyant Walt Frazier. While there were initial questions as to whether Monroe and Frazier could coexist as teammates, the duo eventually meshed to become one of the most effective guard combinations of all time, leading the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. That pairing is one of few backcourts ever to feature two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members. A four-time NBA All-Star, Monroe retired after the 1980 season due to serious knee injuries, which had plagued him throughout his career. He had played 926 NBA career games, scored 17,454 total points (18.8 ppg) and dished out 3,594 assists. Monroe had his number 15 jersey retired by the Knicks on March 1, 1986. Even Monroe admits that his flowing, fluid, silky-smooth on-court style of play was unique. He has said: “You know, I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played.”

Willis Reed – 1972 -’73 Topps #105

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   Willis Reed, Jr. (born June 25, 1942) is a retired American basketball player, coach and general manager. He spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks. In 1982, his outstanding record and achievements were recognized by his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1997, he was voted one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History.” After retiring as a player, Reed served as assistant and head coach with several teams for nearly a decade, then was promoted to General Manager & Vice President of Basketball Operations (1989 to 1996) for the New Jersey Nets. As Senior Vice President of Basketball, he led them to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. 1982, Reed was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He is widely considered as one of the greatest Knicks players ever, with the likes of Walt Frazier and Patrick Ewing.
In 1964 Reed was drafted 10th overall by the Knicks, where he quickly made a name as a fierce, dominating and physical force on both ends of the floor. Reed made an immediate impact with the Knicks. In March 1965 he scored 46 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, the second highest single-game total ever by a Knicks rookie. For the season, he ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring (19.5 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (14.7 rebounds per game). He also began his string of All-Star appearances and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year. In his first seasons with the Knicks, he played power forward and later gained fame as the starting center. Despite his relatively average stature for a basketball player, he made up for his lack of height by playing a physical game, often ending seasons with respectable averages in blocking and rebounding. (He stood 6-foot-10 when contemporaries such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood 7-1 and 7–2, respectively.)
Reed’s most famous performance took place on May 8, 1970, during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in Madison Square Garden. Due to a severe thigh injury, a torn muscle that had previously kept him out of Game 6, he was considered unlikely to play in Game 7. Yet Reed surprised the fans by walking onto the court during warmups, prompting widespread applause. Starting the game, he scored the Knicks’ first two field goals on his first two shot attempts, his only points of the game. Reed’s performance inspired the Knicks, as teammate Walt “Clyde” Frazier went on to score 36 points with 18 assists. The Knicks won the game 113–99, giving New York City its first NBA title. The moment Reed walked onto the court was voted the greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden.

Jerry Lucas – 1972 -’ 73 Topps #125


Jerry Ray Lucas(born March 30, 1940) was a basketball player from the 1950s to the 1970s, and is now a memory education expert. In 1996, the NBA’s 50th anniversary, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in National Basketball Association history. He was named to Sports Illustrated’s five-man College All-Century Team in 1999. Lucas was born in Middletown, Ohio, then a community of 30,000+ halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati, that in the 1940s and 1950s boasted one of the most respected high school basketball programs in the United States. Greatly encouraged, Lucas began pouring hours each day into the town’s game during his early teens. Lucas had become a local playground legend by age 15, in Sunset Park. Sunset Park was then a regional summer hotbed for high school, college and even some pro players. Future Cincinnati Royals teammates Wayne Embry and Oscar Robertson were visitors there. Lucas was already at almost his full-grown height of 6 ft 8 in by age 15, out-playing college players with his advanced game. With no real model to look up to for his game, Lucas simply utilized his rare 20-10 eyesight and remarkable hands to train his shooting and rebounding to remarkable degrees. He created his own drills, showing a gift for inventing games he would utilize later as well.

Bill Bradley – 1972-’73 Topps #82


William Warren “Bill” Bradley(born July 28, 1943) is an American hall of fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and former three-term Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President in the 2000 election. Bradley was born and raised in a suburb of St. Louis and excelled at basketball from an early age. He was a member of the Boy Scouts and did well academically, was an all-county and all-state basketball player in high school, and was offered 75 college scholarships. At Princeton University he earned a gold medal as a member of the 1964 Olympic basketball team and was the NCAA Player of the Year in 1965. After graduating in 1965, he attended Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, delaying a decision for two years on whether or not to play in the NBA. While at Oxford, Bradley played one season of professional basketball in Europe, and eventually decided to join the New York Knicks in the 1967–68 season, after serving six months in the Air Force Reserve. He spent his entire ten-year professional basketball career playing for the Knicks, winning two championship titles. Retiring in 1977, he ran for a seat in the United States Senate the following year, from his adopted home state of New Jersey. He was re-elected in 1984 and 1990, left the Senate in 1997, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination. Bradley is the author of six non-fiction books, most recently The New American Story, and hosts a weekly radio show, American Voices, on Sirius Satellite Radio. He is a corporate director of Starbucks and a partner at investment bank Allen & Company in New York City.

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