Bernard King

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This article is about American basketball player born 1956. For American basketball player born 1981, see Bernard King (basketball, born 1981). For Australian stage actor, celebrity chef, and television personality, see Bernard King (television). For other uses, see Bernard King (disambiguation).
Bernard King
Personal information
Born (1956-12-04) December 4, 1956 (age 58)
Brooklyn, New York
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn, New York)
College Tennessee (1974–1977)
NBA draft 1977 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall
Selected by the New Jersey Nets
Pro career 1977–1993
Position Small forward
Number 22, 30, 55
Career history
19771979 New Jersey Nets
1979–1980 Utah Jazz
19801982 Golden State Warriors
19821987 New York Knicks
19871991 Washington Bullets
1993 New Jersey Nets
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 19,655 (22.5 ppg)
Rebounds 5,060 (5.8 rpg)
Assists 2,863 (3.3 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Bernard King (born December 4, 1956) is a retired American professional basketball player at the small forward position in the NBA. He played 14 seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and the Washington Bullets. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2013.[1]

NBA career[edit]

Bernard King attended college at the University of Tennessee and was selected 7th overall in the 1977 NBA Draft by the New York Nets,[2] who months later relocated from Uniondale, New York to New Jersey and became known as the New Jersey Nets.

At 6′7″ and 205 pounds, Bernard King epitomized the NBA small forward of the 1980s. With his long arms and quick release, King was an explosive runner on the fast-break and a tremendous scorer. King led the NBA in scoring in the 1984–85 season with 32.9 points per game and was selected twice to the All-NBA First Team and four times to the NBA All-Star Game.

In 1977–78, his rookie season, he set a New Jersey Nets franchise record for most points scored in a season with 1,909, at 24.2 points per game. He would later surpass this record with his 2,027 point season in 1983–84, earning the first of his back-to-back All-NBA First Team selections.

On a Texas road trip on January 31 and February 1, 1984, King made history by becoming the first player since 1964 to score at least 50 points in consecutive games. He scored 50 points on 20 for 30 shooting with 10 free throws in a 117-113 Knicks victory over the San Antonio Spurs on January 31. King followed this with another 50 point performance at Dallas, setting a Reunion Arena single-game scoring record in the process. He scored 11 points in both the first and second quarters and 14 points in both the third and fourth quarters. King drew 13 fouls on Mavericks defenders, including Mark Aguirre, who fouled out. King shot 20 for 28 from the field with 10 free throws in the 105–98 win over the Dallas Mavericks.[3][4]

The next season, on Christmas Day, 1984, King lit up the New Jersey Nets for 60 points in a losing effort, becoming just the tenth player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a single game. King had scored 40 points by halftime, and finished the game with 19 of 30 shooting from the field and 22 of 26 from the free throw line. 6′11″ George T. Johnson primarily guarded King in the second half, starting with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter (King had 49 points by this point). Johnson blocked King on two of his shots, and held him to 1–6 shooting from the field.[5]

At the peak of his career, however, King suffered a devastating knee injury—a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.[1] He suffered the injury while planting his straight leg before jumping, causing the knee to bend, against the then-Kansas City Kings' Reggie Theus as Theus was driving to the basket in Kansas City, Missouri on March 23, 1985. It required major reconstruction, causing King to miss all of the 1985-86 season and denying his explosive speed to the basket. Despite averaging 22.7 points per game during his first six games back, it was clear that King's explosiveness was diminished, and this prompted the New York Knicks to release him at the end of the 1987 season. However, King would have a very successful comeback with the Washington Bullets, improving his scoring average each year with the squad and returning to the All-Star Game one last time in 1991, his final full season in the NBA. After a year-and-a-half hiatus and a brief 32-game stint with the New Jersey Nets at the end of the '93 season, knee problems forced Bernard King into retirement. King retired with 19,655 points in 874 games, for an average of 22.5 points per game during his career. At the time of his retirement, King ranked 16th on the all-time NBA scoring list.

Awards and recognition[edit]

At the age of 24, King won the NBA's Comeback Player of the Year award for his play during the 1980-1981 season with the Golden State Warriors. That year, King averaged 21.9 points per game after having played just 19 games the season before with the Utah Jazz.[4][6]

On February 13, 2007, Bernard King's number 53 was retired at the halftime of the Tennessee-Kentucky basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. His jersey number was the first jersey number retired by the Volunteers, who later retired the number of Ernie Grunfeld, King's former teammate. The late 70s Tennessee men's basketball team was known as the "Ernie and Bernie Show" (in reference to Ernie Grunfeld and King) and is viewed as the golden age of UT men's basketball. During an ESPN interview after halftime, King stated he had not returned to the University of Tennessee in more than 30 years, but expressed his sincere appreciation to the University and his plans to return again. His reason for not visiting his alma mater was simply that he had not been asked. King's ceremony punctuated an 89-85 Tennessee victory over the visiting Wildcats.

During the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, a panel of basketball analysts for the TNT network selected Bernard King as one of nominees of the "Next 10", a list of 10 unofficial additions to the NBA's 50 greatest players list in honor of the NBA's 60th anniversary.[7]

In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with inductees such as Rick Pitino and Gary Payton. Some say his candidacy for earlier classes was handicapped by the relatively small number of games he played (874) and the abundance of high-scoring small forwards of the era such as Adrian Dantley and Mark Aguirre.


King's younger brother, guard/forward Albert, spent nine years in the NBA between 1981 and 1992, playing for the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Bullets.

King appeared as an actor in the 1979 basketball comedy Fast Break, with Gabe Kaplan.

King appeared as the star player of a Miami college basketball team and the son of a corrupt judge (played by Bill Russell) in the 1985 episode of Miami Vice entitled "The Fix."

While playing in the NBA, King was a resident of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.[8]

In 1987, King appeared in a Converse commercial for their shoe "The Weapon". The commercial also featured stars such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre and Isiah Thomas rapping about the shoe's impact on their game.

Bernie and Ernie, a 30 for 30 ESPN documentary that first aired on November 5, 2013, explores King's life, career and friendship with Ernie Grunfeld.

Broadcasting career[edit]

King is now working as a part-time broadcaster for NBA TV as well as the MSG Network, filling in on some occasions as color commentator when Walt Frazier is on vacation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lawrence, Mitch (8 September 2013). "Basketball Hall of Fame doors finally open for Knicks legend Bernard King". New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "1977 NBA Draft, First Round". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Hubbard, Jan (February 2, 1984). "King's 50 beat Mavericks, 105-98". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1B, 7B. 
  4. ^ a b Berkow, Ira (2 February 1984). "The Incandescent King". New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Goldpaper, Sam (December 26, 1984). "King Scores Knick-Record 60 Points in Loss to Nets". The New York Times. p. D9. 
  6. ^ "NBA & ABA Comeback Player of the Year Award Winners". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Legends in the Making, TNT, accessed March 9, 2008
  8. ^ Staff. "King Comeback Is Slowed", The New York Times, October 20, 1986. Accessed May 26, 2011. "Just when it looked as if Bernard King's long and arduous rehabilitation was beginning to show results, the Knick forward suffered another setback. While jogging near his home yesterday in Franklin Lakes, N.J., King inadvertently stepped in a hole and sprained his right ankle and knee."

External links[edit]