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Bernard King

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Bernard King
King with the Tennessee Volunteers c. 1976
Personal information
Born (1956-12-04) December 4, 1956 (age 67)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High schoolFort Hamilton (Brooklyn, New York)
CollegeTennessee (1974–1977)
NBA draft1977: 1st round, 7th overall pick
Selected by the New York Nets
Playing career1977–1993
PositionSmall forward
Number22, 30
Career history
19771979New Jersey Nets
1979–1980Utah Jazz
19801982Golden State Warriors
19821987New York Knicks
19871991Washington Bullets
1993New Jersey Nets
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points19,655 (22.5 ppg)
Rebounds5,060 (5.8 rpg)
Assists2,863 (3.3 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Bernard King (born December 4, 1956) is an American former professional basketball player at the small forward position in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played 14 seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Washington Bullets. King is a four-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection and led the NBA in scoring in the 1984–85 season. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2013.[1] His younger brother, Albert, also played in the NBA during his career.

NBA career[edit]

New Jersey Nets[edit]

King attended college at the University of Tennessee and played college basketball for the Tennessee Volunteers. The New York Nets selected King with the seventh overall pick in the 1977 NBA draft,[2] Months later, the Nets relocated from Uniondale, New York, to New Jersey and became known as the New Jersey Nets.

In 1977–78, his rookie season, King set a New Jersey Nets franchise record for most points scored in a season with 1,909, at 24.2 points per game. For his efforts, he was named to the NBA all-rookie first team and placed third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting, behind Walter Davis and Marques Johnson.[3] He would 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.

Utah Jazz[edit]

King played for the Utah Jazz in the 1979–80 season and averaged 9.3 points per game in 19 games.

Golden State Warriors[edit]

The Jazz traded King to the Golden State Warriors before the 1980–81 season. Over two years, he averaged 21.9 points per game, in his first year playing alongside players such as 1980 NBA All-Star World B. Free, Joe Barry Carroll, and Clifford Ray and 23.2 points per game in his second year with the team. Just before the start of the 1982–83 season, King was traded to the New York Knicks in exchange for Micheal Ray Richardson.

New York Knicks[edit]

On a Texas road trip on January 31 and February 1, 1984, King made history by becoming the first player since Rick Barry in 1967 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 Dallas 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 Mavericks.[4][5]

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]

At the peak of his career, however, King suffered a devastating injury to his right leg[1] while planting it under the hoop attempting to block a dunk by Kansas City King Reggie Theus. The March 23, 1985, injury, which included a torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn knee cartilage, and broken leg bone,[7] required major reconstruction, causing King to miss all of the 1985–86 season. To that point no NBA player had returned to form after such a potentially career-ending injury, surgery, and loss of time.

Rehabilitating completely out of the media spotlight, King drove himself back into competitive shape. Despite averaging 22.7 points per game during his first six games back, he had not recovered his pre-injury explosiveness and was released by the Knicks at the end of the 1987 season.

Washington Bullets[edit]

King spent the 1987–88 season climbing back to his former stature as a scorer with the Washington Bullets. That season, during which King, fellow all-star journeyman Moses Malone, and Jeff Malone teamed up to form a formidable trio, would be the only time Washington made the playoffs during King's tenure. In the first round, the Bullets lost a contested five-game series 3–2 against the up-and-coming Detroit Pistons, who would go on to make the NBA Finals.[8]

On November 3, 1990, King scored 44 points in a win over Michael Jordan and the Bulls, which was the most points King had scored in a game since his devastating 1985 knee injury.[9] On December 29, in a game against the Denver Nuggets, King scored a season high 52 points in a 161–133 victory. It was the most points a Washington player had scored since the team moved from Baltimore in 1972.[10] That season, King was selected to his fourth all-star team.

From 1989 to 1991, King averaged 20-plus points in three consecutive seasons. His scoring average peaked at 28.4 points per game at age 34 in 1991, which included ten games where King scored more than 40 points.[11]

New Jersey Nets[edit]

After a year-and-a-half hiatus due to yet another knee injury, King returned for a 32-game stint with the New Jersey Nets at the end of the 1992–93 season, until knee problems forced him to retire from the NBA permanently.[12][13]

Player profile[edit]

At 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) and 205 pounds, King was an explosive, high-scoring small forward utilizing long arms and a quick release. King was a tremendous scorer, and led the NBA in scoring in the 1984–85 season with 32.9 points per game.

NBA career statistics[edit]

King retired with 19,655 points in 874 games, good for a 22.5 points per game average and number 16 on the all-time NBA scoring list at the time of his retirement.

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 *  Led the league

Regular season[edit]

1977–78 New Jersey 79 39.1 .479 .677 9.5 2.4 1.5 .5 24.2
1978–79 New Jersey 82 34.9 .522 .564 8.2 3.6 1.4 .5 21.6
1979–80 Utah 19 22.1 .518 .540 4.6 2.7 .4 .2 9.3
1980–81 Golden State 81 36.0 .588 .333 .703 6.8 3.5 .9 .4 21.9
1981–82 Golden State 79 77 36.2 .566 .200 .705 5.9 3.6 1.0 .3 23.2
1982–83 New York 68 68 32.5 .528 .000 .722 4.8 2.9 1.3 .2 21.9
1983–84 New York 77 76 34.6 .572 .000 .779 5.1 2.1 1.0 .2 26.3
1984–85 New York 55 55 37.5 .530 .100 .772 5.8 3.7 1.3 .3 32.9*
1986–87 New York 6 4 35.7 .495 .744 5.3 3.2 .3 .0 22.7
1987–88 Washington 69 38 29.6 .501 .167 .762 4.1 2.8 .7 .1 17.2
1988–89 Washington 81 81 31.6 .477 .167 .819 4.7 3.6 .8 .2 20.7
1989–90 Washington 82 82 32.8 .487 .130 .803 4.9 4.6 .6 .1 22.4
1990–91 Washington 64 64 37.5 .472 .216 .790 5.0 4.6 .9 .3 28.4
1992–93 New Jersey 32 2 13.4 .514 .286 .684 2.4 .6 .3 .1 7.0
Career 874 547 33.7 .518 .172 .730 5.8 3.3 1.0 .3 22.5
All-Star 4 1 21.0 .474 .692 4.3 2.3 .8 .5 11.3


1979 New Jersey 2 40.5 .500 .417 5.5 3.5 2.0 .0 26.0
1983 New York 6 30.7 .577 .333 .800 4.0 2.2 .3 .0 23.5
1984 New York 12 39.8 .574 .000 .756 6.2 3.0 1.2 .5 34.8
1988 Washington 5 4 33.6 .491 .810 2.2 1.8 .6 .0 13.8
1993 New Jersey 3 1 8.0 .571 .3 .0 .3 .0 2.7
Career 28 5 33.4 .559 .250 .729 4.3 2.3 .9 .2 24.5

Awards and recognition[edit]

At the age of 24, King won the NBA 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.[5][14]

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.[15] 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 1970s Tennessee men's basketball team was known as the "Ernie and Bernie Show" (in reference to Grunfeld and King) and is viewed by many 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.[16]

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.[17]

In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with inductees such as Rick Pitino and Gary Payton.[18]

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.[citation needed]

Acting career[edit]

King made an appearance in Miami Vice as Matt Ferguson, son of Judge Roger Ferguson (played by Bill Russell), a basketball star with the fictitious Florida Sunblazers in the episode "The Fix". He also appeared in the 1979 movie Fast Break (with Reb Brown).

Personal life[edit]

Legal Troubles[edit]

In July 1977, a month after being drafted by the Nets, King was arrested and charged with burglary for breaking into a UT athletics building to steal a television set.[19] He had earlier been suspended from the Tennessee team after being arrested for marijuana possession (later acquitted), drunk driving, and resisting arrest (all later dropped),[20] which stemmed from an arrest after police were called by a woman who said a man was trying to break into her apartment, and upon arrival they found King in the hallway.[21]

In December 1978, King was arrested by the NYPD while sleeping in his car with "less than $10 worth" of cocaine on hand, and was charged with several misdemeanors, later dropped.[22]

In January 1980, King was arrested in Salt Lake City after complaint of forcible sexual assault by a woman.[23] Facing a possible 10-year sentence, he took multiple lie detector tests to support his assertion that he had been so intoxicated he had no recollection of the events in question.[24][25] That June, he would plead guilty to a reduced charge of attempted forcible sexual abuse, and received a fine and suspended sentence.[26]

In his 2017 autobiography, King would say that he battled alcohol addiction in the late 1970s, and that it was "the darkest period of my life".[27] Following his early-1980 arrest, he spent a month at a California rehab center, and then sought help through Alcoholics Anonymous.[20]

After his playing career was over, more troubles followed. In August 1994, an intoxicated King was arrested in New York and charged with assaulting a 22-year-old woman in his apartment, after allegedly grabbing her around the neck in an altercation (for which she was treated for bruises at a local hospital).[28][29] In October 2004, King was again arrested in New York for battery of his wife Shana, who told authorities he had pushed her to the ground three times; the incident left her black and blue with bruises on her eye and swelling on her forehead.[30][31] The charges were dropped after King agreed to marriage counseling sessions,[32] but the incident cost King a promotional relationship with local property developer Bruce Ratner,[33] as well as resulting in his name being removed as an honoree of the Brooklyn Public Library.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lawrence, Mitch (September 8, 2013). "Basketball Hall of Fame doors finally open for Knicks legend Bernard King". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  2. ^ "1977 NBA Draft, First Round". NBA.com. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  3. ^ 1977-78 NBA Awards Voting: Rookie of the Year (Wilt Chamberlain Trophy)
  4. ^ Hubbard, Jan (February 2, 1984). "King's 50 beat Mavericks, 105-98". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1B, 7B.
  5. ^ a b Berkow, Ira (February 2, 1984). "The Incandescent King". New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  6. ^ Goldpaper, Sam (December 26, 1984). "King Scores Knick-Record 60 Points in Loss to Nets". The New York Times. p. D9.
  7. ^ "Bernard King: Comeback 'defines my career'". newsday.com. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "1988 NBA Eastern Conference First Round - Bullets vs. Pistons".
  9. ^ Aldridge, David (November 4, 1990). "BULLETS RISE TO OCCASION AS KING'S 44 NAIL BULLS". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  10. ^ "Bullets 161, Nuggets 133".
  11. ^ "How Many Times Did Bernard King Score More Than 40 Points in 1990-91".
  12. ^ "Bernard King Retires After 14 Seasons in the NBA". Los Angeles Times. September 3, 1993. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "Bernard King: The NBA's Underappreciated Legend". Bleacher Report.
  14. ^ "NBA & ABA Comeback Player of the Year Award Winners". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  15. ^ University of Tennessee Retires Bernard King's Number Archived August 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine @ UTsports.com
  16. ^ Bernard King speech to Tennessee Tip-Off Club @ UTsports.com
  17. ^ Legends in the Making Archived December 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, TNT, accessed March 9, 2008
  18. ^ @bleacherreprot.com
  19. ^ "Bernard King Arrested". Lakeland Ledger. July 11, 1977. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  20. ^ a b Bloom, Barry. "Bernard King". The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball. No. 1982. Signet.
  21. ^ Kindred, Dave (July 22, 1977). "King's Arrests Mystify His Friends and Coaches". Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  22. ^ Goldaper, Sam (December 19, 1978). "Nets' King Is Arrested on Driving and Drug Counts". New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  23. ^ "King, Forward for Jazz, Arrested on Sex Charge; Acquired From Nets". New York Times. January 3, 1980. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  24. ^ Sachare, Alex (March 23, 1981). "King Comes Back After Skid to Rock Bottom". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  25. ^ Rosen, Byron (June 4, 1980). "Nba Hopes to Discover Dawkins-Proof Boards". Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  26. ^ "King Pleads Guilty, Escapes Prison Term; Still Faces Drug Charge". New York Times. June 5, 1980. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  27. ^ King, Bernard (November 7, 2017). Game Face: A Lifetime of Hard-Earned Lessons On and Off the Basketball Court. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306825705.
  28. ^ "Bernard King arrested for assault". United Press International. August 11, 1994. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  29. ^ "BERNARD KING RELEASED AFTER ARREST FOR ASSAULT ON FEMALE". Greensboro News and Record. August 11, 1994. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  30. ^ Doyle, John (October 24, 2004). "FORMER KNICK BUSTED; KING BEAT WIFE: COPS". NY Post. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  31. ^ Melago, Carrie (October 24, 2004). "Police Bust Ex-Knicks Star in Wife Feud". NY Daily News. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  32. ^ Richmond, Peter (April 8, 2013). "On the Fame of a King". Bronx Banter Blog. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  33. ^ Wisloski, Jess (October 29, 2004). "Key Ratner booster accused of spousal abuse". Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  34. ^ Creekmore, Betsey (September 25, 2018). "Bernard King". Volopedia. University of Tennessee. Retrieved February 15, 2024.

External links[edit]