To opponents Walt Frazier was devastatin’ and intimidatin’. For teammates he was affable and unflappable. For fans he was always stylin’ and profilin’. When it comes to great point guards he played without peer or fear.
Minus a forgettable stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of his career, Frazier was the linchpin of the New York Knicks for nearly a decade. Willis Reed was the rock that solidified the team-oriented club, but Frazier tied up the loose ends and was the flex that allowed the team to adjust and grow.
When Frazier appeared on the scene in the 1967-68 season, the New York Knicks enjoyed their first winning season since 1958-59. The next year, the Knicks won 54 games, losing in the Eastern Division Finals. The subsequent season, 1970, they captured the NBA title. That 1970 season was the year of Willis Reed. The Knicks center won the regular season MVP Award, the Playoff MVP Award, and was immortalized by limping onto the court for Game 7 of the Finals.
But that Game 7 was the moment of Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Frazier eviscerated the Los Angeles Lakers for 36 points, 19 assists, and 7 rebounds along with numerous steals. It’s one of the great performances in NBA history and Frazier didn’t let up over the subsequent years as he assumed the role of Knicks leader.
From 1971 to 1975, Frazier would lead the Knicks in scoring and assists every year. He spearheaded the Knicks 1971 trip to the Eastern Finals which they lost in 7 games, their 1972 Finals loss to the Lakers, and their 1973 return to the NBA title mountain top.
Frazier’s stifling defense and suave offense continued to thrive, but the Knicks aged and stumbled. They exited the 1974 playoffs in the Eastern Finals, but in 1975 they lost in the 1st round. Frazier for his part though averaged a sterling 24 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals per game on 63% FG and 81% FT that postseason. That was the last time Frazier appeared in the playoffs. After two more respectable seasons in New York, Frazier was traded to Cleveland. There he enjoyed one final decent season before crumbling and succumbing to retirement in 1980.
Nowadays, Clyde is looked upon respectfully as a debonair and enticing announcer, or the gossamer pitchman for Just For Men. He’s surely both those things and more, but first and foremost he was a superb guard who could score, rebound, pass, and defend in the most pressured of situations.
Seasons Played: 1968 – 1980
2x Champion (1970, 1973)
4x All-NBA 1st Team (1970, 1972, 1974-’75)
2x All-NBA 2nd Team (1971, 1973)
7x All-Defensive 1st Team (1969-’75)
All-Star Game MVP (1975), 7x All-Star (1970-’76)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1968)
NBA – 825 Games
18.9 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 49.0% FG, 78.6% FT
Contemporary NBA Ranks (1968 – 1980)
10th Games Played, 6th Minutes Played
13th FGs Made, 11th FTs Made
30th Rebounds, 3rd Assists
13th Steals, 11th Points
27th FG%, 42nd FT%
10th MPG, 54th RPG
7th APG, 6th SPG