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Basketball great, Bernard King, was born December 4, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York. Bernard King was one of basketball's all-time greatest scorers. He played all or part of 14 seasons with the New Jersey Nets (1977–1979, 1992-93), Utah Jazz (1979-80), Golden State Warriors, (1981–1982), New York Knicks (1983–1987), and the Washington Bullets (1987–1991).
Bernard King had a fascinating career. Major knee reconstruction cost him two years at the peak of his abilities. When he returned to the court despite great odds against a comeback, he had to adjust his style of play to accommodate his diminished physical abilities. He proved many skeptics wrong when he became an All-Star. He poured in more than 19,000 points in a career spent with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Washington Bullets.
King enjoyed his greatest glory while playing in a New York uniform. His scoring output increased each year with the Knicks, from 21.9 ppg in 1982-83 to 26.3 ppg (fifth in the league) in 1983-84. On Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, he posted back-to-back 50-point outings against the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks. He also returned to the All-Star Game that year and earned his first spot on the All-NBA First Team.
King led the Knicks to a 3-2 first round series win over the Detroit Pistons as he posted over 40 points in four games and 36 in the other. King averaged 34.8 ppg in the entire 1984 NBA Playoffs, before losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
In 1984-85 King was the main attraction in the Big Apple and beyond. He led the NBA in scoring with an average of 32.9 ppg, including one memorable heat wave in the middle of winter. On Christmas Day he scored 60 points against New Jersey (a Knick franchise record), and on Feb. 16, he rained in 55 points against the Nets.
On March 23 at Kansas City, King crumbled to the floor with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The knee was so seriously mangled that he missed the subsequent 1985-86 season and all but the final six games of the 1986-87 campaign.
That injury prompted a slump by the Knicks at the conclusion of the 1984-85 season and eventually placed the team in the first NBA Draft Lottery for non-playoff teams. The Knicks were fortunate by getting the number one selection in the 1985 Draft and selected Patrick Ewing. However, King missed Ewing's entire rookie season and in the next season, Ewing was injured for the six games King played. In those six games, King averaged 22.7 ppg, proving that he had successfully rehabilitated himself. But the Knicks were no longer interested in him, and they renounced his rights at the end of the 1986-87 campaign.
New York and the rest of the league then watched in wonder as King worked his way back up with the Washington Bullets. He averaged 17.2 ppg in his first comeback season and increased his scoring for the following three years until 1990-91, when he reached 28.4 ppg (third in the NBA behind Michael Jordan and Karl Malone) and returned -- up to that point as the oldest starter ever -- to an NBA All-Star Game.
Even more remarkably, King changed his playing style to accommodate the loss of explosiveness he had suffered because of his knee injury. Where most of his points had once come from posting up, flinging in bump-and-fade jumpers from the baseline and shooting from the perimeter, the "new" King was a face-up player who scored most of his points with slashing moves to the basket. He had become a complete in-the-paint player.
King not only had he reconstructed his knee and his career, but he also had rehabbed his reputation from that of a troubled Brooklyn prodigy to that of a thoughtful (if moody) superstar. He later told Inside Sports, "If I'm going to do something in life, I've always felt I had to be the best at it. That feeling drives me, gives me motivation. I knew that it would take a tremendous amount of effort to play again, but I wanted it. I didn't want to just come back, I wanted to come back as an All-Star."
Another knee operation, this time to remove cartilage, was performed before the 1991-92 season, and it eventually took its toll. King missed that campaign, then was waived by the Bullets in January of 1993. He latched on with the Nets and played 32 games before retiring after the 1992-93 season. King had scored 19,655 points for a career average of 22.5 ppg.
King later said that his biggest regrets were not winning a championship ring and, to a lesser extent, not making the 20,000-point club. "But you know what I'm going to do about that?" he thought aloud in Newsday in 1993. "At some point before the winter begins, I'm going to go in the backyard and score 350 points. So that'll bring me up to par."