Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Bernard King Makes Hall of Fame, Says He & Ewing Would Have Won NBA Title; Likes Knicks’ Chances in Eastern Conference
ATLANTA — It was 1997 and Bernard King was on the beach on the Caribbean island of Anguilla for his honeymoon when he heard a voice say, “Hey, B.”
The voice belonged to Patrick Ewing.
And who was also walking along the beach with Ewing?
Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. The former Georgetown big men were at the beach resort for Mourning’s wedding.
Ewing turned to Mourning and said, “If ‘B’ and I played together, we would’ve kicked your butt,” referring to the Knicks and the Miami Heat.
King, 56, recalled the story to a small group of reporters here moments after being officially named to the Naismith Hall of Fame 2013 class along with a group that included Louisville coach and former Knicks coach Rick Pitino,Gary Payton, Jerry Tarkanian and former Knick Richie Guerin.
The Brooklyn native was the No. 7 pick in the 1977 NBA Draft out of Tennessee. He averaged 22.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in a career that spanned from 1977-93. It started and ended with the Nets, though his best years — including an NBA scoring title in 1985 — came with the Knicks from 1982-1987.
He finished with 19,655 career points, including 60 in one game.
It was King’s third time as a finalist for the Hall of Fame and sixth overall nomination.
After he finally made it, he sounded truly touched.
“It’s just an honor for me and my family and I’m delighted and moved,” King said.
He was asked if he had any regrets about never challenging for an NBA championship after tearing his right ACL on March 23, 1985.
That year, the Knicks added Ewing with the No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, but King missed the entire 1985-86 season because of the injury and after coming back, the Knicks released him in 1987. He later did stints with the Washington Bullets and the New Jersey Nets.
“My thoughts are very simple: the only regret I have is that [Ewing] and I didn’t team together,” King said, “because I believe in my heart of hearts that we would’ve won a championship together.
“So I don’t regret getting injured. I did something at that time that no one had really ever done successfully, to come back at the highest level. And it was my goal to become an All-Star again and after two years of hard work, five hours a day, six days a week for two straight years….And I did that and I came back at the highest level and I’m very proud of myself for that.”
As for the current Knicks — winners of 12 straight after Sunday’s nationally-televised victory at Oklahoma City — King said they have a chance to compete with the Miami Heat should they meet in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Look at how they’re playing right now,” King said. “Obviously, when they faced Miami LeBron and [Dwyane] Wade did not play in that game, but even still Miami has a tremendous roster.
“I don’t like to say what are their chances because that’s to say they don’t have a chance. I think they’ll compete on the highest level. I have great respect for that organization and LeBron James and everyone else on that team, they won a championship. But I do say I’ve never seen LeBron out-play Carmelo.”
Anthony may not have matched King’s back-to-back 50-point games, but he leads the NBA in scoring at 28.44 points per game, has amassed 167 points in the last four games and was named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
“He’s on a roll,” King said. “He’s playing the best basketball of any player in the league and you’re not going to stop him at all. He has such versatility, he can handle the ball, he can put the ball on the floor. He can get to the basket, he’s very powerful down low. He shoots the 3-point shot so he can extend the defense, force the defense to come up and then he can go around.”
Anthony earlier congratulated King on his acceptance into the Hall of Fame.
“He deserves it,” Anthony said, according to CBSlocal.com. “It’s about time. He deserved it a long time ago.”
Anthony is often compared to King.
Both are prolific scorers, and both have yet to win a title.
Yet King dismissed the criticism of Anthony as selfish or as a me-first player.
“Melo has didstirbuted the ball tremendously and he’s passed the ball very well,” King said. “And he’s capable of that, and when it’s time to score he scores.
“I love watching him play, he’s a great, great basketball player.”
And one who still hopes to capture that elusive championship that King — and Ewing — never won.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.