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Bernard King

This article is about American basketball player born 1956. For American basketball player born 1981, see Bernard King (basketball, born 1981). For Australian stage actor, celebrity chef, and television personality, see Bernard King (television). For other uses, see Bernard King (disambiguation).
Bernard King
Personal information
Born (1956-12-04) December 4, 1956 (age 59)
Brooklyn, New York
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Career information
High school Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn, New York)
College Tennessee (1974–1977)
NBA draft 1977 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall
Selected by the New Jersey Nets
Pro career 1977–1993
Position Small forward
Number 22, 30, 55
Career history
19771979 New Jersey Nets
1979–1980 Utah Jazz
19801982 Golden State Warriors
19821987 New York Knicks
19871991 Washington Bullets
1993 New Jersey Nets
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 19,655 (22.5 ppg)
Rebounds 5,060 (5.8 rpg)
Assists 2,863 (3.3 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Bernard King (born December 4, 1956) is a retired American professional basketball player at the small forward position in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played 14 seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and the Washington Bullets. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2013.[1]

NBA career

Bernard King attended college at the University of Tennessee and was selected 7th overall in the 1977 NBA draft by the New York Nets,[2] who months later relocated from Uniondale, New York to New Jersey and became known as the New Jersey Nets.

At 6′7″ and 205 pounds, Bernard King epitomized the explosive, high-scoring NBA small forward of the 1980s. With his long arms and quick release, King was a tremendous scorer. Speed permeated his game, whether cutting to the hoop or finishing on the fast-break. King led the NBA in scoring in the 1984–85 season with 32.9 points per game and was selected twice to the All-NBA First Team and four times to the NBA All-Star Game.

In 1977–78, his rookie season, he set a New Jersey Nets franchise record for most points scored in a season with 1,909, at 24.2 points per game. He would later surpass this record with his 2,027 point season in 1983–84, earning the first of his back-to-back All-NBA First Team selections.

On a Texas road trip on January 31 and February 1, 1984, King made history by becoming the first player since 1964 to score at least 50 points in consecutive games. He scored 50 points on 20 for 30 shooting with 10 free throws in a 117-113 Knicks victory over the San Antonio Spurs on January 31. King followed this with another 50 point performance at Dallas, setting a Reunion Arena single-game scoring record in the process. He scored 11 points in both the first and second quarters and 14 points in both the third and fourth quarters. King drew 13 fouls on Mavericks defenders, including Mark Aguirre, who fouled out. King shot 20 for 28 from the field with 10 free throws in the 105–98 win over the Dallas Mavericks.[3][4]

The next season, on Christmas Day, 1984, King lit up the New Jersey Nets for 60 points in a losing effort, becoming just the tenth player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a single game. King had scored 40 points by halftime, and finished the game with 19 of 30 shooting from the field and 22 of 26 from the free throw line.[5]

At the peak of his career, however, King suffered a devastating injury to his right leg[1] while planting it under the hoop attempting to block a dunk by Kansas City King Reggie Theus. The March 23, 1985 injury, which included a torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn knee cartilage, and broken leg bone,[6]required major reconstruction, causing King to miss all of the 1985-86 season. To that point no NBA player had returned to form after such a potentially career-ending injury, surgery, and loss of time.

Rehabilitating completely out of the media spotlight, King drove himself back into competitive shape. Despite averaging 22.7 points per game during his first six games back, he had not recovered his pre-injury explosiveness and was released by the Knicks at the end of the 1987 season.

He used the 1987-88 to solidify his come-back with the Washington Bullets, then launched into three straight +20 point seasons, peaking at a remarkable 28.4 as a 34 year-old in 1990-91. Having played 81 games in 1988-89 and all 82 in 1989-90 he had proved the naysayers wrong both on his skills and durability, then walked away on-top as the 1990-91 NBA's #3 scorer and an All-Star for a final time.

After a year-and-a-half hiatus, King returned for an ill-fated 32-game stint with the New Jersey Nets at the end of the '93 season, when knee problems forced him permanently to the sidelines. He retired with 19,655 points in 874 games, good for a 22.5 points per game average and number 16 on the all-time NBA scoring list.

Awards and recognition

At the age of 24, King won the NBA's Comeback Player of the Year award for his play during the 1980-1981 season with the Golden State Warriors. That year, King averaged 21.9 points per game after having played just 19 games the season before with the Utah Jazz.[4][7]

On February 13, 2007, Bernard King's number 53 was retired at the halftime of the Tennessee-Kentucky basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. His jersey number was the first jersey number retired by the Volunteers, who later retired the number of Ernie Grunfeld, King's former teammate. The late 70s Tennessee men's basketball team was known as the "Ernie and Bernie Show" (in reference to Ernie Grunfeld and King) and is viewed as the golden age of UT men's basketball. During an ESPN interview after halftime, King stated he had not returned to the University of Tennessee in more than 30 years, but expressed his sincere appreciation to the University and his plans to return again. His reason for not visiting his alma mater was simply that he had not been asked. King's ceremony punctuated an 89-85 Tennessee victory over the visiting Wildcats.

During the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, a panel of basketball analysts for the TNT network selected Bernard King as one of nominees of the "Next 10", a list of 10 unofficial additions to the NBA's 50 greatest players list in honor of the NBA's 60th anniversary.[8]

In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with inductees such as Rick Pitino and Gary Payton. Some say his candidacy for earlier classes was handicapped by the relatively small number of games he played (874) and the abundance of spectacular small forwards of the era, including the overlapping careers of the superior Julius Erving and Michael Jordan, and other high-scoring "threes" such as Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Dominique Wilkins, and Mark Aguirre.

Broadcasting career

King is now working as a part-time broadcaster for NBA TV as well as the MSG Network, filling in on some occasions as color commentator when Walt Frazier is on vacation.

See also


  1. ^ a b Lawrence, Mitch (8 September 2013). "Basketball Hall of Fame doors finally open for Knicks legend Bernard King". New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "1977 NBA Draft, First Round". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Hubbard, Jan (February 2, 1984). "King's 50 beat Mavericks, 105-98". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1B, 7B. 
  4. ^ a b Berkow, Ira (2 February 1984). "The Incandescent King". New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Goldpaper, Sam (December 26, 1984). "King Scores Knick-Record 60 Points in Loss to Nets". The New York Times. p. D9. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "NBA & ABA Comeback Player of the Year Award Winners". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Legends in the Making, TNT, accessed March 9, 2008

External links

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