July 7th 1982: The New York Knicks trade for Truck Robinson
The New York Knicks opened up their 1982 offseason by acquiring Truck Robinson in trade with the Phoenix Suns for Maurice Lucas.
Before joining the Knicks, Truck was known as one of the top forwards in the league. The combination of his strength and quickness allowed him to play both forward positions with ease. His ability to make jump shots allowed him to attack the paint with ferocity. He was a two-time NBA All Star, with the New Orleans Jazz & Phoenix Suns respectively.
His best season was in 1978 when he averaged 22.7 points/game and 15.7 rebounds/game. He was the NBA rebounding champion that season and also made the All-NBA First Team.
At the time of the trade, Robinson averaged 19.1 points/game and 9.7 rebounds/game with the Suns in the previous season. With the Suns, Robinson still had the onus of carrying the team offensively and defensively. New coach Hubie Brown anticipated Truck to be a versatile forward for the team.
With Bernard King on the roster, Hubie decided to reduce Truck’s role to prioritize defense over offense. Unfortunately, his entire game suffered as a result. Truck’s points and rebounds per game both significantly declined. He averaged a near career worst 9.5 points/game and 8.1 rebounds/game in his first full season with the Knicks. Fans complained that they had a “truck with four flat tires” and would deride him with chants of “Dump Truck.”
Truck played another full season with the Knicks before retiring at the end of the 1984-85 season after missing all but two games with a broken bone in his foot.
Before the introduction of the draft lottery, the NBA draft consisted of 10 rounds. The draft was also held in May, one of the last few drafts to be held before June.11975 was the last draft held before June 1st
The 1974 NBA Draft was mostly non-consequential for the Knicks. Entering the night, the Knicks had the 14th pick, but the team traded it to the Bulls for Howard Porter and a 1975 2nd round pick that became Larry Fogle. Both players only played one season with the Knicks. The Bulls used the 14th pick to draft Maurice Lucas. Lucas had several All-Star seasons in his NBA career and won a championship with the Portland Trailblazers. Ironically, the Knicks acquired him in 1981 for Ray Williams. Coincidentally, the Knicks dealt Lucas in the next year for Truck Robinson, drafted in the 2nd round of the 1974 NBA Draft.
The Knicks drafted Jesse Dark & Greg Jackson in the 2nd round and 5th rounds respectively. Both players only spent one year with the Knicks.
The draft overall consisted of 4 Hall-of-Famers including Bill Walton, George Gervin, Bobby Jones, & Jamaal Wilkes. In addition to the players mentioned in the prior paragraphs, both Campy Russell & Len Elmore had short stints with the Knicks later in their careers.
January 31st 1983: The New York Knicks, sans Bernard King, beat the Kansas City Kings
The New York Knicks routed the Kansas City Kings 114-97 despite the fact that Bernard King was inactive due to a sprained right ankle and Trent Tucker was held scoreless. 4 of the 5 starters scored at least 18 points to propel the team to victory. Power Forward Truck Robinson led the way with 21 points and had 5 assists. Paul Westphal shined on both the offensive and defensive end with 18 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals. Bill Cartwright had a double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Louis Orr replaced King in the starting lineup and scored 20 points.
The Knicks’ tenacious defense helped open up the game in the 2nd half. After only leading by 4 at half, the Knicks scored 31 points in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters to seal the victory. Their pressure defense led to an 18-2 run to start the 3rd fueled by 6 steals. Additionally, the team shot nearly 51% from the field in an efficient effort.
The 1982-83 Knicks, led by Bernard King and coached by Hubie Brown, made the playoffs and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals where the eventual champion Philadelphia 76ers swept them in 4 games. Outside of the notable players (King, Cartwright, Tucker), there were a few interesting names on the roster and coaching staff.
Mike Fratello was an assistant coach on Hubie Brown’s staff for the 1982-83 season. He left to coach the Atlanta Hawks. Isiah Thomas almost considered hiring him as head coach after he fired Don Chaney. Future Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld finished his NBA career with the Knicks in 1986. He then moved to covering the games on MSG before becoming assistant coach under Stu Jackson. He became GM of the Knicks in 1991.
The Knicks acquired Truck Robinson in a trade with the Suns for Maurice Lucas. Truck spent his final 2+ seasons with the Knicks, but notably helped the Knicks sweep the Nets in the first round of the 1983 playoffs. The Knicks acquired Louis Orr right before the season from the Indiana Pacers for a 2nd round pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. Orr spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and mostly produced off the bench except for Patrick Ewing’s rookie season (1985-86) with Bernard King sidelined due to injury.
Furthermore, future NBA coach Paul Westphal spent around 1.5 seasons with the Knicks. He spent most of his prime splitting time as a reserve with the Boston Celtics (winning a championship in 1974) and as a budding superstar with the Phoenix Suns. Westphal made 5 straight All-Star teams with the Suns and helped the team reach the finals in 1976. A foot injury in 1981 cut short his prime and he later joined the Knicks in 1982. Westphal went into coaching in both the NBA and NCAA. He enjoyed slightly more success in the NBA leading the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns to an NBA Finals in his first season. After Charles Barkley left the Suns in 1995, Westphal never seemed to recover the coaching magic achieved in the early stages of his career.