HomeLifestyleClyde Frazier pumped for Knicks title party that almost never came
Clyde Frazier pumped for Knicks title party that almost never came
Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier thought the team’s brass had forgotten about the franchise’s first title team. Can’t blame them. It’s been so long.
As first reported by The Post, the Knicks announced Friday the staging of a 50th anniversary celebration of their first championship, from the 1969-70 season. The main festivities will occur at halftime of the March 21 game at the Garden against the Warriors. Stephen Curry, close to returning from a broken bone in his left hand, will get to learn a lot about the Knicks’ golden history.
“There was nothing cooking and nobody knew anything,’’ Frazier told The Post of honoring that title team. “I was like, ‘Man, we got to do something.’ ’’
All the living members of the 1969-70 team are believed to be able to make it, according to sources — right down to the bench guys such as Cazzie Russell, Mike Riordan, Bill Hosket, John Warren and Don May.
Of course, the legendary icons with their numbers retired in the rafters will be there — starting with Frazier, the team’s longtime MSG Network broadcaster, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett.
“It’s going to be the same — we’re just older,’’ Frazier said. “Willis will be the captain telling us where to be. Other guys will be telling jokes the same like they used to do — like Barnett. It was fun. The sad part will be the people who were not there. [Coach Red] Holzman, [Dave] DeBusschere, [trainer] Danny Whelan. He was the life of the team — always in a joking mood, getting us to laugh.’’
The three deceased players are DeBusschere, Nate Bowman and David Stallworth. Frazier can’t remember the last time he saw May, Warren and Hosket.
“We personified team,’’ Frazier said. “You can’t mention Frazier without Bradley or Barnett. In ’73 [the Knicks’ second title], we had better talent with Earl [Monroe] and Jerry Lucas. But ’69-70, we had to play as a team to win. That and defense. I could’ve scored more. Willis could’ve scored more. But we wouldn’t have been champions. Everyone sacrificed, especially to get everyone involved.’’
The championship drought will hit 47 years once the Knicks are officially eliminated from the playoffs — likely sometime in late March. It will be seven straight years without a playoff berth, and Frazier has called the majority of the games on television.
“No way,’’ Frazier said when asked if thought a Knicks title drought of this length was possible. “I thought there’d be titles every five, six years. And 1994 [when they were up 3-2 in The Finals versus the Rockets] was the year they should’ve won it. I never thought this kind of drought would happen.”
That is likely why the 1969-70 team is still immortal. But not everyone connected to the season was invited. Due to owner James Dolan’s long-running feud with Marv Albert, the radio voice of the club that season, Albert was not asked again, as The Post’s Andrew Marchand reported.
“Too bad — politics,” Frazier said.
Albert was also blacklisted for the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1973 team in 2013 and the 40th anniversary of the first title team in 2009-10.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson attended the 2013 ceremony of the 1973 team. He also was on the 1969-70 squad but was on injured reserve, playing the role of unofficial team photographer as sidekick to legendary lensman George Kalinksy.
Jackson was fired as team president in 2017. Frazier and a Jackson associate are unaware if the Zen Master, who now lives mostly in Montana, will attend.