“You can’t spend all your energy on the offensive end,” says Gallatin. “It’s defense that makes the difference. The best system is the simplest: get the rebound then go-go-go. And be appreciative of where your talent has taken you: always make the extra effort.”
Even at the age of 78 in 2005, Harry Gallatin was preaching the technique that made him an NBA All-Star back in the 1950s. Standing only 6’6″, Gallatin was the rock solid center of the New York Knicks for nearly a decade. And he was durable rock. He only missed eight games in his whole career, and all eight of those came in his rookie season.
The greatest of stones though can’t give the kind of effort Gallatin did night after night. The combination of his resolve and his drive encouraged onlookers to call Gallatin “The Horse.”
He certainly played the game rough like a wild stallion. The Horse loved to mix it up on the boards and relished physicality. He recorded double-digit rebound averages every season of his career, although rebounds weren’t tallied during his first two pro seasons. In 1954 he averaged a career-high 15.3, which was good enough to lead the NBA.
He cleaned the glass on both ends of the court. On defense he would release outlet passes to spark the offense of Dick McGuire and Carl Braun. If the two guards failed to deliver, Gallatin was there to mop up the offensive glass and produce putbacks with regularity.
These Knicks of Gallatin, McGuire, Braun, Max Zaslofsky and Sweetwater Clifton, were perennial contenders. They made three consecutive NBA Finals in the early 1950s, but lost every time including back-to-back Game 7 defeats in 1951 and 1952. His teams may have barely fallen short, but Gallatin was convinced of their method and their product.
After retiring, Gallatin coached the Knicks and St. Louis Hawks and was legendary for his imposing practices:
“Harry Gallatin’s training camps were grueling. They were scheduled for two hours in the morning, two more in the evening, but they invariably went longer. Harry was a very physical player, so he wanted his team to be the same way. He had something called the ‘buddy drill.’ You were paired off with a guy who was your size, and you’d hoist him on top of your shoulders and carry him around the court. It was insane.”
– Barry Clemens in Tall Tales
Perhaps insane, but horses have never been known for flawless logic. In this case, though, The Horse had a point. Having the talent wasn’t enough. Realizing that talent, sharpening it, honing it, and appreciating it, was necessary for success. With that attitude it’s not surprising Gallatin achieved what he did during his 10 seasons as a professional basketball player.
Seasons Played: 1949 – 1958
All-NBA 1st Team (1954)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1955)
7x All-Star (1951-’57)
BAA – 52 Games
8.3 PPG, 1.2 APG, 32.8% FG, 71.0% FT
NBA – 630 Games
13.3 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 40.3% FG, 77.6% FT
RPG Leader (1954)
Contemporary NBA Ranks (1950-1958)
2nd Games Played, 11th Minutes Played
5th FTs Made, 11th FGs Made
2nd Rebounds, 22nd Assists
5th RPG, 20th PPG, 29th MPG
19th FG%, 22nd FT%