January 28, 1975: Walt “Clyde” Frazier scores 39 points and Mel Davis makes his first NBA start in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks
Clyde led the Knicks to victory with a line of 39 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. He had 35 points through three quarters, but only scored 4 points in the final quarter. The Knicks led by more than 13 points with six minutes remaining, but let the Hawks climb back into the game. The victory helped stop a stretch where the Knicks lost 14 of the previous 20 games.
This game was also notable for being Mel Davis’ first NBA start. Davis, a 6’6 St. Johns alum, was in his 2nd season with the team before he received his first start on this date. In 32 minutes, Davis had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Coach Red Holzman decided to start Davis to provide additional frontcourt grittiness, while allowing Phil Jackson to come off the bench to provide versatility playing either the power forward or center positions.
Mel spent most of his 5-year NBA career with the Knicks. He spent a few years overseas and had a successful post-basketball career working with Pepsico, and later the NBA. He eventually became the Executive Director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. The association helps NBA players successfully transition into a post-retirement career. Some of the duties include understanding pensions and obtaining post-basketball education.