Over the last 20 years, the Knicks have been through an unending amount of personnel. From superstars to sixth men, and coaches to general managers, the whole organization has been overturned time and time again. One of the only mainstays? Herb Williams.
Prior to the 1992-93 season, free agent Herb Williams signed with the New York Knicks. Little did he know the deal he inked would last a life time.
Herb Williams was nothing more than Patrick Ewing’s backup while in New York, but prior to his Knicks days, he was one of the more intimidating shotblockers in the league. The 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 10.9 minutes, he averaged as a Knick were a mere shell of what he accomplished in Indiana, where he spent the majority of his career, but somewhere along the way, he made a lasting impression with the Knicks organization. For the most part, Herb was there for his veteran experience, even being named captain despite being the team’s third string center. He was the type of guy that would have fit in perfect with last season’s Knicks, alongside Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby. No, Herb didn’t play much, but he was always ready when his number was called, and if it wasn’t, he had enough wisdom to command the respect of others. Williams retired after the Knicks short appearance in the 1999 NBA Finals, but he wouldn’t stay away for long…
Four years after retiring, Herb joined Don Chaney’s coaching staff. Like most others, Chaney wouldn’t last too long in New York, and Williams got his first opportunity to coach, splitting two games while the team was transitioning from Chaney to Lenny Wilkens. However, Wilkens would only last 81 games in New York, bequeathing his dysfunctional, Isiah Thomas-built roster to Herb upon resigning midway through the 2004-05 season. Williams coached the Knicks to a winning percentage of .372, which was impressive considering Larry Brown, a future Hall of Famer, followed it up with a percentage of just .280 the very next year.
Despite losing his title as (interim) head coach, Herb has managed to hang on as an assistant in every regime since. I’ve never seen anything like it. Herb’s ability to stay satisfied with the same organization, let alone one as frustrating as the Knicks, is downright amazing. It has come to the point that the Knicks without Herb is like peanut butter without jelly. At 25 years old, the idea of the Knicks without Herb is foreign to me. You can bet that if Mike Woodson were to lose his job, Herb would be the prime candidate to replace him, and he might be the only guy that New Yorkers wouldn’t complain about.
The only legitimate footage of Herb’s playing time in New York that’s readily available features him on the wrong side of Chicago’s dunkfest. He was a locker room guy for a reason.