It’s a sports debate talk show’s dream come true: who is the greatest basketball player of all-time?
In recent years, the conversation has narrowed down to two names: Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Trying to get fans, media members, former players, etc. to agree seems like an impossible task.
Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier isn’t making the debate any easier.
“Wilt Chamberlain is the only superman to ever play the game. His records are hilarious. Anybody they talk about doing something, Chamberlain has done it hundreds of times.”
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is the only player in National Basketball Association history to be voted a unanimous most valuable player, which happened back during the 2015-16 season.
Curry averaged 30.1 points 6.7 assist and 5.4 rebounds in the regular season before ultimately leading the Warriors to a historic 73-9 season and an NBA Finals appearance. The MVP award is voted on at the end of the season, not including playoffs.
“Curry was the only unanimous MVP. They should apologize to Russell and Chamberlain for what they did for the game and the dominance they had. Jordan is up there too well deserved. LeBron I don’t think is right up there with those guys. He’s not on Mt Rushmore. But, Jabbar, Chamberlain, Russell, Robertson -- those guys were magnificent in what they did for the game.”
Clyde helped lead the Knicks to their only two championships in 1970 and 1973. He was inducted into the Basketball HOF in 1987 and named one of the 50 greatest players to ever play the game.
Frazier spoke one-on-one with Sports Illustrated while hosting his annual youth basketball camp at Baruch College in New York City. He’s been hosting camps for over 50 years.
“Highlight of my summer man. I could be everywhere I want in the world but i chose to be with you guys. Everything I’ve accomplished, kids have always been there for me. I feel compelled to do it. This year is 52 years doing basketball camps. Still get excited for it. Still enjoy it.”
He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended Southern Illinois University, leading them to the National Invitational Tournament championship with a 71-56 victory over Marquette in the final that was actually played at Madison Square Garden.
“My dream was to be an athlete. My mom had me when she was 16. With 7 sisters and 1 brother, my mom always wanted a house with the big kitchen. She loved to cook. As a kid 14 15, I used to pray every night to be a basketball football baseball player. In 1973, she got the big house.”
The Knicks drafted Frazier with the fifth overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft. It was completely different than the television spectacle broadcasted on television today.
“I was in class [when I found out], the day of the draft I had talked to a few teams. My attorney told me after class I had been drafted by the Knicks. I was shocked. They never spoke to me.”
37 years. The last time the Knicks won an NBA championship all the way back in 1973. Frazier was their star point guard.
“Clyde” had arguably the greatest performance in Game 7 of the 1973 NBA Finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers. The Willis Reed game.
“Destiny. I believe in destiny. Some things are meant to be. If we played the Lakers four or five times, that we might not have won. But that one night man, it was our time. Now the Knicks are looking for that same destiny.”
He finished with 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds. Before the game, he got some special advice from his head coach, the legendary Red Holtzman.
“When I left the locker room, [Red] Holtzman told me, Frazier hit the open man. But as the game progressed, I was the open man! I had the game of my life. Willis was the inspiration hitting the first two shots. The rest was history.”
Frazier still holds the Knicks’ all-time franchise record for career assist with 4,791.
Moving to the current-day Knicks, the biggest shock of the 2019 NBA offseason was superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving picking the Brooklyn Nets over the Knicks in free agency.
“Flabbergasted. I never thought those guys would go to Brooklyn over the Knicks. Are you kidding me? And then everyone was saying they were coming to the Knicks. I was really shocked when that happened.
Irving grew up a Nets fan and dreamed of one day playing for his hometown team. Much speculation has been made that hadn’t Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals, Durant and Irving could very well have been in New York with the Knicks, not Brooklyn,
The Nets made the playoffs in 2018-19 with a more experienced and complete roster. The Knicks had the worst record in the NBA one year ago.
“I have no idea man. I really can’t figure it out. Knicks needed a guard. Kyrie was the type of guy they needed.”
The Knicks added Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, etc. That’s not what they had in mind when they traded their young star Kristaps Porzingis for two draft picks and three players, clearing cap space for marquee free agents who could potentially help bring the Knicks their first title since Clyde was running the point at Madison Square Garden.
The Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson Nets that made it to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances didn’t take over New York City then. Nothing is changing now either, Frazier believe
“It’s a Knicks town. I can’t see this current Nets team be better than Kidd, K-Mart and Jefferson. They were magnificent. They went to the finals twice. Everyone was still asking what’s wrong with the Knicks? It’s still a Knicks town for now.”