November 10th 1971: The New York Knicks acquire Earl Monroe from the Baltimore Bullets for Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth, & cash
The Earl Monroe trade will forever be remembered as one of the greatest trades in Knicks history. Leading up to the moment, Monroe requested a trade from the team and preferred to be sent to one of the Lakers, Bulls, or 76ers. While away from the team, Monroe received a call from his agent stating that there was a deal with the Knicks. Continue reading →
March 25th 1972: The New York Knicks set a new home attendance record in a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Knicks went on a pursuit to break the home attendance record with a resounding 98-83 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The sold-out crowd of 19,588 fans set a new regular season record of 785,298 fans. The number broke the record set last year, by the Knicks, of 763,487 fans.
With Earl Monroe sidelined due to injury, Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Dick Barnett shouldered the offensive load for the team. Clyde scored 23 points while Barnett scored 19 in 35 minutes of action.
The game also featured one of the rare fights during the 1971-72 season between Jerry Lucas and Rick Roberson. Punches were thrown (but missed), but the scuffle ended without further conflict or suspension. Before the David Stern era, the penalties for fighting in a game were either rare or nonexistent at best.
January 23, 1972: The New York Knicks withstand a late-game comeback against the Seattle Supersonics.
The Knicks nearly averted trouble to hold onto a 101-99 victory on the road against the Seattle Supersonics. The Knicks led by as much as 20 points by halftime and even had a 15 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Sonics went on a 9-0 run and cut the lead down to 6 with less than 40 seconds in regulation.
A combination of Earl Monroe fouling out, an unfortunate traveling call, and a costly turnover cut the lead down to 2 and gave the Sonics an opportunity to tie the game. However, Phil Jackson and Walt Frazier made the final defensive stop to seal the victory.
Monroe led the Knicks with 27 points. Clyde nearly had a triple double with 13 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. Future Knicks Spencer Haywood and Lenny Wilkens (coach) were on the Supersonics roster. Haywood was an All-Star for the Sonics for 4 seasons before the Knicks acquired him in a trade in 1975. Haywood teamed up with Bob McAdoo for slightly more than 3 seasons.
Lenny Wilkens served a unique role as player-coach of the Sonics. He was one of the last player-coaches in the NBA. He spent two separate stints as a player-coach with both the Seattle Supersonics & Portland Trailblazers from 1969-1972 and 1974-75. After Wilkens retired from his playing career in 1975, he became a full-time coach for the Blazers before rejoining the Sonics in 1977.
The game was also nationally televised on ABC. For viewing purposes, the game had to be played at 11:00AM pacific time. Up until the David Stern era, most nationally televised basketball games (and televised games in general) were viewed on tape-delay so families could watch in the evening hours on the weekend.
December 21, 1971: The New York Knicks rout the Golden State Warriors in an embodiment of the team-first culture
The New York Knicks routed the Golden State Warriors 113-87. All five starters scored in double figures. Walt “Clyde” Frazier led the team with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett scored 23 and 18 points respectively.
Additionally, both Jerry Lucas & Dave DeBusschere grabbed 19 and 18 rebounds respectively. The two players combined for 37 of the team’s 63 total rebounds. Lucas had a productive season replacing Willis Reed, who was hobbled with left knee tendinitis the entire season.
In an embodiment of the team culture, the Knicks’ starting lineup combined for 22 of the team’s 26 assists. Three players (Clyde, Lucas, DeBusschere) each had 5 assists while Bradley dished 4 assists.