Larry Johnson spent just five seasons with the Knicks, but left a lasting impression. Today, we celebrate his 45th birthday by taking a look back at some of the more memorable moments from his stay in New York.
Johnson was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the first pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. It didn’t take long for him to become one of the most explosive players in the league. At 6-6, LJ was undersized, but his ferocious style of play made him too strong to be guarded by small forwards, and too quick to be guarded by power forwards. His talent was one of a kind.
LJ’s stay in New York was hampered by nagging injuries, including an oft-aching back, but he won the city over by battling through things and changing his game to be a little more perimeter oriented. Johnson was as tough as nails, and was a perfect reflection of The City That Never Sleeps. In five seasons with the Knicks, he scored 4,045 points, brought down 1,821 rebounds, and won over millions of hearts.
He’s best known for his game-clinching four-point play against the Indiana Pacers in the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals, and his leadership and grit played a huge part in taking those eighth seeded Knicks to the Finals that same year. Because of that, LJ will always be a part of the New York basketball lore, and the trademarked “L” he used to shape with his forearms will live on forever.