Some or shall I say a great many of people would call the LeBron James moniker as “King” to be blasphemous. The “King,” name in many hearts and minds belong to New York born and bred (Brooklyn), Bernard King. King who played with a scowl on his face, is getting enshrined into the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 8, 2013.
King toiled in his craft as a dynamic scoring small forward during the Golden Years of forwards of the NBA: Larry Bird, Julius (Dr. J) Erving, and Dominique Wilkins (who by the way ushered in King into the HOF), Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, Alex English and KiKi Vandeweghe just to name a few. To show you how powerful that group of certified point-makers were, all but Vandeweghe and Aguirre are Hall of Famers. These days the small forward position even with the aforementioned James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony isn’t as potent as the glory days.
King who wasn’t without his share of problems as a young NBA scoring machine and even as a retired legend is a perfect example of picking yourself up and running harder than at the first. King also suffered a devastating injury on March 23, 1985 while playing with the New York Knicks against the then Kansas City Kings. It was an injury that came upon King while at the peak of his career. King had just won the NBA scoring title averaging 32.9 points per game. He was more than a handful for opponents to guard.
The injury to King’s right knee was a torn ACL which in those days was a recipe for early retirement. These days, the ACL injury as former NBA high scoring guard (Utah Jazz by way of the University of Louisville), Darrell Griffith once told me, “was like getting a sprained ankle.” King however had to endure a 2 year grueling battle to make it back to playing in the NBA. Had King just wanted to become an average NBA player or if he wanted to become a beast in the YMCA weekend warrior type of leagues, perhaps the 2 years could have been cut in half. But King who was told by doctors that he would never play again wanted to become an NBA All-star. King would become an NBA All-star for the 4th time while with the then Washington Bullets in 1991.
King retired with 19,655 points scored which ranked him 16th at the time of his retirement. He also played in 874 games for his career and it is safe to say had King not had suffered the knee injury and missing all of that time on the court, there’s no telling where he would have ranked before it was all over and done with.
Congratulations and hail to the King!