The eldest of nine children, Frazier attended Atlanta's David Tobias Howard High School. He quarterbacked the football team and played catcher on the baseball team. He learned basketball on a rutted and dirt playground, the only facility available at his all-black school in the racially segregated South of the 1950s. After having a great career at Howard, Frazier attended Southern Illinois University. Although he was offered other scholarships for his football skills, Frazier accepted a basketball offer from Southern Illinois University.
Frazier wasted no time in becoming one of the premier collegiate basketball players in the country. He was named a Division IIAll-American in 1964 and 1965. In 1965, Frazier led SIU to the NCAA Division II Tournament only to lose in the finals to Jerry Sloan and the Evansville Purple Aces 85-82 in overtime. In 1966, he was academically ineligible for basketball.
In Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the LA Lakers, widely known for an injured Willis Reed's inspiring appearance onto the court, it was Clyde who was the unsung hero putting up an astounding 36 points and 19 assists leading the Knicks to their first NBA championship.
In 1971, the New York Knicks traded for fellow NBA guard Earl "the Pearl" Monroe to form what was known as the "Rolls Royce Backcourt" with Frazier. While there were initial questions as to whether Frazier and Monroe could coexist as teammates, the duo eventually meshed to become one of the most effective guard combinations of all time, leading the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. That pairing is one of few backcourts ever to feature two Hall of Famers and NBA 50th Anniversary Team members.
Frazier held Knicks franchise records for most games (759), minutes played (28,995), field goals attempted (11,669), field goals made (5,736), free throws attempted (4,017), free throws made (3,145), assists (4,791) and points (14,617). CenterPatrick Ewing would eventually break most of those records, but Frazier's assists record still stands.
Frazier was also one of the first players to make stealing the ball an art form. He would make sudden steals and surprise the offense. When asked about his defensive success, he answered that he did not believe in contact defense. Instead, he defended in such a manner that it appeared he was not playing defense. When he did so, the offensive player was often tricked into letting his guard down whereby Frazier would steal the ball with his quick hands.
Frazier currently works as a commentator alongside Mike Breen for MSG Network telecasts of Knicks games. He also worked with Breen previously on the radio broadcasts before his switch to television in 1997, and also worked on Knicks games with Marv Albert. As a broadcaster, Frazier has coined many rhyming phrases, such as "dishing and swishing", "duping and hooping", "posting and toasting," "stopping and popping," "winning and grinning," "using and abusing," "shaking and baking," "hustling and bustling," "bounding and astounding," "flaunting and taunting," as well as others. Frazier also did broadcasting work for TBS in the 1980s.
Since March 2012, Frazier has owned and operated a themed restaurant in New York City called Clyde Frazier's Wine and Dine. It is located a 485 10th Avenue and features a small basketball court. He often visits the restaurant to mingle with fans.
While he was a steely, no-nonsense competitor in games, Frazier was known for his flamboyant sense of style off of the court. He used his "Clyde" persona to bring glamor to Madison Square Garden, Frazier would arrive at games in a Rolls Royce, dressed in designer suits, broad-brimmed Borsalino hats, and full-length mink coats.
Frazier became one of the first NBA players to have his own signature shoe model when he endorsed the eponymous suede Clydes athletic shoes made by Puma. The shoe has proven to be very popular over the years, and is in its third decade of production. In 1970, prior to his team becoming NBA champions, he signed a 2 year endorsement with American Felt Slipper company. The Clyde by Walt Frazier sold in stores such as S Kleins.