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Justin Kubatko: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the fifth player to record at least 100 points and 40 rebounds through the first three games of an NBA Finals: ✅ Elgin Baylor (1962, 1963) ✅ Willis Reed (1970) ✅ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1980) ✅ Shaquille O’Neal (2000, 20001) ✅ Antetokounmpo (2021)
Put another way: There is the James Dolan who feuds with former Knicks stars and rankles celebrity fans. There is the Dolan who runs through executives and coaches like Spinal Tap drummers and puts tremendous on his employees. There is also the Dolan who pursued music on his own, who grew up on the touchstones — Eric Clapton, the Dead, Duane Allman — and reminisces about his first guitar, a used Gibson J-50, like Knicks fans remember Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Dave DeBusschere. “That’s his rosebud,” McKenna told Shattered. Or, as Dolan once told Canadian journalist Peter Robb of the Ottawa Citizen in 2013, “I don’t shoot basketballs, I don’t shoot pucks, I don’t install cable in people’s homes. Music is a place that goes from my mind to my hands and into my voice direct out.”
You mentioned you were a Knicks fan growing up. Although it was before my time, I know those Knicks teams were great, with guys like Walt Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Willis Reed among others. What did those teams mean to you, and did you have any opportunities to go to Madison Square Garden to see them play? Frank Fraschilla: Well, Walt “Clyde” Frazier just turned 76 and it seems like it was just yesterday that we were trying to buy Puma Clyde’s, when we could save the money. It was a big deal in New York back then when he signed with Puma. The Knicks probably shaped my love affair with basketball. I did go to a number of Knicks games when I was a kid. I’d go anytime my dad or my uncle could buy tickets. We would usually sit in the upper tiers of Madison Square Garden. Because I loved the game so much, I’d go to the park, in the playgrounds in New York City, and try to emulate my heroes: Clyde Frazier, Bill Bradley, and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe.
From Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton to Sam Jones to Willis Reed to Earl “The Pearl” Monroe to Bob Love to Anthony Mason to Charles Oakley to Ben Wallace, it used to be commonplace to see players from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the NBA All-Star Game. But today, it’s rare to see an HBCU player in the NBA at all. There is only one HBCU player left among the 30 teams: Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, who starred at Tennessee State. “That’s a little disturbing,” Wallace told The Undefeated. “Most of us HBCUs, we’re scorers or specialists. The league has shifted to shooters and that has weeded out a lot of the HBCU players.”
The legendary Marv Albert was the voice of the Knicks when they won their NBA championships in 1970 and ‘73. Red Holzman’s Willis Reed-Clyde Frazier teams remain the gold standard. That’s the way it is when Knicks fans find themselves trying to scratch a 48-year itch. “They appreciate good defense, and they appreciate good passing,” Albert said. “That era was so popular because of the way they’d swing the ball, which is what Golden State did through their championship years. Steve Kerr believed in that, and so did (Spurs coach Gregg) Popovich. Those Knicks teams were very smart. Red had five coaches on the floor, basically.”