The amazing Bernard King began his career with the New Jersey Nets, drafted seventh overall in the 1977 NBA Draft from the University of Tennessee. Despite averaging 24.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 79 games his rookie season, King lost the NBA Rookie of the Year award to Walter Davis who put up the same number of points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. Someone was robbed!
Okay, it was close and Marques Johnson of the Milwaukee Bucks could have also made a case (19.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks), but the robbery I’m talking about actually took place a year later when the Nets traded King to the Utah Jazz for Rich Kelley after King’s second season with the team (21.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals in 82 games). Kelley finished with 7.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks for his 11-year career and stuck around New Jersey for a whole 57 games.
Regardless, King is known for being one of the New York Knicks’ legendary players and rightly so. In only four seasons with the Knicks, King put up some spectacular performances and was basically unstoppable by other NBA players. He led the league in scoring for the 1984-85 (32.9 PPG). Around these parts, King will always be a Knick and the only thing that could stop him was his own body; King only played six games in his last season with the Knicks in 1986-87 after missing the whole 1985-86 season because of a torn ACL.
If King had found his NBA glory a few decades later with the Nets, imagine how wild and crazy Barclays Center would be as the Brooklyn-born and Fort Hamilton high school product King was announced during starting line-ups. It would trump anything King ever did with the Knicks. Alas, woulda, shoulda, coulda. However, it would have been nice if King stayed with the Nets after two excellent opening NBA seasons, especially when you consider that Kelley didn’t stay long or made his presence felt while with the Nets. He could have been (to a much lesser degree), the Nets’ new Dr. J, but in the NBA.
I take it back… the Nets weren’t robbed. The fans were… again.