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Walt Frazier
Walt Frazier (2020)
Frazier in 2020.
No. 10, 11
Position: Point Guard
League: NBA
Personal information
Full name: Walter Frazier Jr.
Born: March 29, 1945 (1945-03-29) (age 79)
Atlanta, Georgia
Nationality: Flag of the United States American
Physical stats
Listed height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Listed weight: 200 lbs (91 kg)
National Basketball Association career
Debut: 1967 for the New York Knicks
Final game: 1979 for the Cleveland Cavaliers
Career information
High school: David T. Howard
(Atlanta, Georgia)
College: Southern Illinois Salukis (19631967)
NBA Draft: 1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th
Selected by the New York Knicks
Playing career: 19671979 (12 years)
Career history
19671977 New York Knicks
19771979 Cleveland Cavaliers
Career highlights and awards
NBA career statistics
Points: 15,581 (18.9 PPG)
Rebounds: 4,830 (5.9 RPG)
Assists: 5,040 (6.1 APG)
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball–Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted in 1987)
College Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted in 2006)

Walter "Clyde" Frazier Jr. (born March 29, 1945) is an American former professional basketball player of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As their floor general and top perimeter defender, he led the New York Knicks to two championships (1970 and 1973), and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. Upon his retirement from basketball, Frazier went into broadcasting; he is currently a color commentator for telecasts of Knicks games on the MSG Network. In 1996, Frazier was honored as one of the league's greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 50th Anniversary Team. In October 2021, Frazier was again honored as one of the league's greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

High school and college[]

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. Although he was offered other scholarships for his football skills, Frazier accepted a basketball offer from Southern Illinois University, saying that "there were no black quarterbacks, so I played basketball."

Southern Illinois 1967 NIT

Frazier hoists the 1967 NIT championship trophy with co-captain Ralph Johnson.

Frazier became one of the premier collegiate basketball players in the country. He was named a Division II All-American in 1964 and 1965. As a sophomore 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.

SIU moved up from Division II to Division I in 1967, and Frazier and SIU won the National Invitation Tournament, defeating Marquette University 71–56 in the final, in the last college basketball game played at the old Madison Square Garden in New York. Frazier was named Most Valuable Player of the 1967 tournament.

Professional career[]

New York Knicks (1967–1977)[]

Frazier was drafted fifth overall by the New York Knicks, going on to average 9.0 points per game and be named to the NBA All-Rookie Team during the 1967–68 season. During his rookie season with the Knicks, he picked up the nickname "Clyde" because he wore a fedora similar to that of Warren Beatty, who played Clyde Barrow in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.

As a sophomore, Frazier's 17.5 points, 7.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game averages made him one of the most improved players in the league.

Walt Frazier and Lucius Allen

Frazier with the ball while guarded by Lucius Allen in 1969.

On October 30, 1969, Frazier recorded 43 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists in a 123–110 win over the Houston Rockets. Frazier was chosen as an NBA All-Star during the 1969–70 season, the first of seven selections during his 10-year stint with the Knicks.

The Knicks made it to the 1970 NBA Finals thanks to the great play of both Frazier and star teammate Willis Reed. However, in Game 5, Reed suffered a painful leg injury. With Reed out, chances of the Knicks winning the championship were slim. However, Reed returned to the series, playing the first two minutes of Game 7 and scoring its first two points before limping off. With Reed out, Frazier went on to post one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history, tallying 36 points, seven rebounds, 19 assists, and six steals in leading New York to victory in what is referred to by ESPN as one of the best game sevens ever played.

Walt Frazier 1977

Frazier in 1977.

The Knicks were unable to repeat as champions in 1971, falling to the Baltimore Bullets and their star Shooting Guard Earl Monroe in the second round of the playoffs despite Frazier's 20.4 points per game average during the second series.

During the off-season, in May 1971, Frazier scored 26 points and was named MVP of an exhibition game played between NBA and ABA All-Stars in Houston's Astrodome.

Following the 1970–71 season, the Knicks traded for Monroe, who was always difficult for Frazier to guard. Not many people thought the two players' styles would mesh, but Monroe and Frazier soon became one of the best backcourts in the league, even earning the nickname the "Rolls Royce" backcourt.

The Knicks returned to the NBA Finals in 1972, but fell to the Los Angeles Lakers, who completed a record-setting season with an NBA championship.

Frazier led the Knicks to a second NBA championship in 1973, topping the Lakers in a five-game series. His defense on Jerry West played a major role in defeating the star-filled team.

In 1976, Frazier was selected for his seventh and final NBA All-Star Game.

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). Patrick Ewing eventually broke most of those records, but Frazier's assists record still stands.

Cleveland Cavaliers (1977–1979)[]

Frazier was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 1976–77 season for the younger Jim Cleamons. The trade left the NBA world stunned, as many people were furious that New York was willing to let go of arguably the greatest player in franchise history.

Frazier played only 66 games over the course of three seasons with the Cavaliers. He retired midway through the 1979–80 season, when he only played 3 games and averaged career-lows of 3.3 points and 2.7 assists before being waived.

NBA career statistics[]

Legend
  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
 †  Won an NBA championship

Regular season[]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1967–68 New York 74 21.5 .451 .655 4.2 4.1 9.0
1968–69 New York 80 36.9 .505 .746 6.2 7.9 17.5
1969–70 New York 77 39.5 .518 .748 6.0 8.2 20.9
1970–71 New York 80 43.2 .494 .779 6.8 6.7 21.7
1971–72 New York 77 40.6 .512 .808 6.7 5.8 23.2
1972–73 New York 78 40.8 .490 .817 7.3 5.9 21.1
1973–74 New York 80 41.7 .472 .838 6.7 6.9 2.0 .2 20.5
1974–75 New York 78 41.1 .483 .828 6.0 6.1 2.4 .2 21.5
1975–76 New York 59 41.1 .485 .823 6.8 5.9 1.8 .2 19.1
1976–77 New York 76 35.4 .489 .771 3.9 5.3 1.7 .1 17.4
1977–78 Cleveland 51 32.6 .471 .850 4.1 4.1 1.5 .3 16.2
1978–79 Cleveland 12 23.3 .443 .778 1.7 2.7 1.1 .2 10.8
1979–80 Cleveland 3 9.0 .364 .000 1.000 1.0 2.7 .7 .3 3.3
Career 825 37.5 .490 .000 .786 5.9 6.1 1.9 .2 18.9
All-Star 7 7 26.1 .449 .857 3.9 3.7 1.3 .0 12.6

Playoffs[]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1968 New York 4 29.8 .364 .778 5.5 6.3 9.5
1969 New York 10 41.5 .503 .596 7.4 9.1 21.2
1970 New York 19 43.9 .478 .764 7.8 8.2 16.0
1971 New York 12 41.8 .529 .733 5.8 4.5 22.6
1972 New York 16 44.0 .536 .736 7.0 6.1 24.3
1973 New York 17 45.0 .514 .777 7.3 6.2 21.9
1974 New York 12 40.9 .502 .898 7.9 4.0 1.8 .3 22.5
1975 New York 3 41.3 .630 .813 6.7 7.0 3.7 .0 23.7
Career 93 42.5 .511 .751 7.2 6.4 2.1 .3 20.7

Style[]

Since the late 1960s, Frazier has been known for being a fashion icon, and was one of the first major pro athletes to be acclaimed as such. The website Clyde So Fly catalogs and grades every suit he wears while broadcasting New York Knicks games on the MSG Network.

Frazier has a line of Puma sneakers named after him. The first Puma Clyde was released in 1973. Until that time, the Converse Chuck Taylor, launched in 1917, was the only basketball sneaker bearing a player's name. Frazier, then, is the first modern NBA star to have his own line of sneakers. The promotional material references Frazier's "signature colorful style".

Frazier's loquacious, rhyming broadcast commentary has become part and parcel of his image. His phrase "posting and toasting" — a description of player moving close to the basket and scoring over a rival — inspired the name of the popular Knicks blog, postingandtoasting.com. And his phrase for playing tough defense, "tenacious D," provided the name for actor Jack Black's humorous musical duo Tenacious D.

Personal life[]

Frazier lives in Harlem with his long-term girlfriend, Patricia James, and they also have a home in St. Croix. He is the father of a son referred to both as Walt Jr. and, later, Walt III. Frazier is a member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha.

See also[]

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