This is the opening section of a column that appears on the Nothing But Nylon website.
By Ed Odeven
Bernard King was not accorded the proper respect that he deserves: legitimate recognition of his greatness. His name should’ve been included on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which was unveiled a few weeks ago.
In 2006, TNT published an article that provided a revealing look at the network broadcasters’ thoughts on which players are the next 10, a decade after the 50 greatest players were celebrated in connection with the league’s golden anniversary.
Legendary play-by-play announcer Marv Albert said he would’ve included King’s name among the next 10.
While Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and other superstars commanded attention and won NBA titles in the 1980s before Michael Jordan ascended to the top of the basketball pecking order – and stayed there until he retired (the first two times) – it was impossible to bottle up King for long.
Simply put, the New York native and University of Tennessee alum was too strong, too crafty, too competitive, too determined, and too great to be denied baskets during a remarkable stretch of five seasons from 1980-81 to 1984-85. During that five-year span, King shot 58.8, 56.6, 52.8, 57.2, and 53.0 percent from the field. He averaged 21.9, 23.2, 21.9, 26.3, and 32.9 points per game in those seasons, the first two for the Golden State Warriors, the next three for the New York Knicks.
The 6-foot-7 King’s greatness was clearly defined on a road trip in 1984. He dropped 50 points on the San Antonio Spurs on January 31, making 20 of 30 shots from the floor without attempting a three-pointer. The next day, King had another 50-point outing against the Denver Nuggets, again without attempting a triple.
In the 1984 playoffs, King was a thorn in the side of the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics in the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs. In 12 games, his scoring totals were as follows: 36, 46, 46, 41, 44, 26, 13, 24, 43, 30, 44, and 24. He made zero threes in either series.
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