Starting last season, the inside collar of all New York Knicks jerseys read “Once A Knick, Always A Knick.” Judging by the way they move players around, this statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. Unfortunately, it sometimes means that legendary Knicks are forced to suit up as an opponent in Madison Square Garden. We’ve already showed you how Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley’s Garden returns went, but this time we’re going even further back in the past, to a time before Walt Clyde Frazier was ever behind a microphone.
A few years back, a friend of mine and I were taking a New York City stroll just a couple blocks away from MSG. From down the street, we could see a taller-than-normal, bearded man heading towards us. As he got closer, we realized that it was the one and only Walt Clyde Frazier, and absolutely no one was paying him any attention. We were quick to give him a high five as we passed by, but as far as I could tell, we were the only ones. To this day, I’m still baffled how no one recognized a two-time NBA champion and current voice of the New York Knicks just casually walking down the street. Things were much different on October 25, 1977.
One the eve of the 1977-78 season, the Knicks made a drastic move, sending away their franchise leader in points, assists, and games played in compensation for the free-agent signing of Jim Cleamons. Just four games in to the Cavs’ year, Frazier would return to The Garden, donning wine and gold.
Clyde admittedly had butterflies before his first game back in New York, something so rare for someone who always acted cool, calm, and collected. His skill was on the decline for a couple seasons before he left, so the three minute long standing ovation he received before it started came as somewhat of a surprise. It was the first capacity crowd at MSG since the 1973 championship year.
The game was a thriller, ending 117-112 in overtime, in favor of the Cavs. Clyde helped ice the game down the stretch, ending with 28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, and 4 assists. He couldn’t help but put on a show for the fans who stuck by his side at all times.
Fortunately, we were able to find some footage of his return. The game against the Cavs only lasts until the seven minute mark, but anyone who proves they watched the entire 50 minutes is entitled to a prize that has yet to be determined.