The New York Knickerbockers have a history almost as long as their name. The Knicks were founded in 1946 and their Royal blue, orange, and silver jerseys are as recognizable as any color combination in the league. Playing at the legendary Madison Square Garden, one of the most iconic sporting venues on the planet, the New York Knicks retired jerseys have graced the court in Manhattan with distinction.
In total, the New York Knicks have retired nine numbers. This is a good amount for an NBA team, though admittedly far fewer than the ridiculous 23 that have been retired by the Boston Celtics as of May 2022. This is by far the most in the entire NBA.
This article will look at the numbers that after hanging in the rafters at MSG, never to be worn by another Knick. It will also look at numbers that aren’t retired yet, but that could have a chance to be in the future. The New York Knicks have won eight division titles, four conference titles, and two NBA Championships (1970 and 1973). Read on to see how many of the retired jerseys come from that era or from other times in the storied almost 80-year history of the franchise.
All Of The New York Knicks Retired Jerseys
There are nine New York Knicks retired jerseys (kind of). Here they are in numerical order.
#10 – Walt Frazier (1979)
The player known as “Mr. Cool” was basically a Knicks lifer. Frazier played 759 games for the Knicks in 10 seasons with the team before finishing his career with two years in Cleveland. Frazier was one of those top of the draft picks that actually worked out. He was selected by the Knicks out of Southern Illinois with the No. 5 overall pick of the 1967 NBA Draft.
A point guard that played on both Knicks’ championship teams in 1970 and 1973, Frazier averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game as a do-everything player for the franchise.
#12 – Dick Barnett (1990)
Dick Barnett may have only been a one-time All-Star, but the 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard was an important piece in both of the Knicks’ championship wins. Barnett was originally a selection of the Syracuse Nations – that is how far back we are talking – in 1959 out of Tennessee State, the Knicks were Barnett’s fourth team.
He excelled in the Knicks’ offensive system, shooting freely to score 15.6 points in just over 600 games with the team.
#15 – Earl Monroe (1986)
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe not only had a nickname that any boxer would be proud of, but he was also a monster for the Knicks between 1972 and 1980. The first player on this list with just one NBA Title to his name with the club (1973) Monroe played in just under 600 games for the Knicks over nine seasons.
Monroe scored 16.2 points per game as a Knick and his flashy and entertaining style of play made him a huge fan favorite at MSG. The Hall of Famer also had his number retired by the Baltimore Bullets (Washington Wizards).
#15 – Dick McGuire (1992)
That is not a typo, the Knicks really have retired the No. 15 jersey on two different occasions. Dick McGuire was the second No. 15 to send his jersey to the rafters in 1992, six years after Earl Monroe.
McGuire played with the Knicks from 1949 to 1957 and is the player furthest back in Knicks history to have his jersey number retired. While he never won an NBA Title, McGuire was a playmaking machine and was a seven-time NBA All-Star over his 11 seasons in the league.
McGuire’s best season may have been as a rookie when he led the league with a then-record 386.
#19 – Willis Reed (1976)
A Knick lifer, Willis Reed played all 650 games of his professional career with the New York franchise from 1964 to 1974. Selected out of Grambling State with the No. 8 pick in Round 2 of the 1964 NBA Draft, Reed was immediately a star. Reed was not only a two-time NBA Champion with the Knicks, he was also a two-time NBA Finals MVP and was the overall MVP of the league in 1970.
The Hall of Famer then went on to coach at both the college and NBA level and is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time.
#22 – Dave DeBusschere (1981)
“Big D’ Deve DeBusschere started his career by playing five and a half seasons with the Detriot Pistons before settling in New York. DeBusschere was a 6-foot-6, 220-pound small forward who used his height and athleticism to bully his way to a career double-double (16.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game) with the Knicks.
A key cog of both Knick’s championships, DeBusschere also played MLB for the Chicago White Sox at the start of his career. He was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary team.
#24 – Bill Bradley (1984)
Another dual-title winner on this list, Bill Bradley scored 12.4 points per game over a career that stretched to 742 games in Gotham. A one-time All-Star and basketball Hall of Famer, Bradley is probably best known for his endeavors off the court.
A noted thinker even when playing the game, Bradley was a three-term Senator for the State of New Jersey, has written seven non-fiction books, and hosts a weekly radio show on Sirius radio.
#33 – Patrick Ewing (2003)
The only modern-era player currently on this list and up there with Willis Reed as the best Knick in history is Patrick Ewing. The 1986 Rookie of the Year was seen as a can’t-miss prospect and delivered on that in the Big Apple. Ewing played an astonishing 15 seasons with the Knicks, averaging 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds for his Kinck’s career.
The 11-time All-Star is regarded as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, but the Knicks could never build a team around their superstar to win another NBA Title.
#613 – Red Holtzman (1990)
The head coach for the two New York Knicks’ NBA Title wins, Red Holzman has the number 613 retired in his honor to signify the number of games he won while coaching the team.
Holzman was actually a three-time NBA Champion as he won the title as a player while turning out for the Rochester Royals (Sacramento Kings) in 1951. That title victory was – very ironically – over the New York Knicks.
Potential Future New York Knicks Retired Jersey Numbers
Those are the nine retired numbers. There are also a few other numbers that have been worn that are worthy of consideration to be New York Knicks retired jerseys.
- #7 Carmelo Anthony – Looking at the history of jersey retirements by the Knicks paints a story. Only two players – McGuire and Ewing – have had their jersey number retired without an NBA Title to their name. ‘Melo is a Hall of Fame quality player, a fan favorite, and his best years were as a Knick, but will that be enough to see the No. 7 in the rafters?
- #34 Charles Oakley – This one should already be done. Oakley is the Knicks all-time offensive rebound leader, second in Value Over Replacement Player (only behind Ewing), and second all-time in steals. James Dolan and the ownership have a longstanding beef with Oakley so this won’t happen any time soon.
- #30 – Bernard King – King might be the poster child for “no title, no retired number” in New York. An explosive score who fans adored – King scored 60 points on Christmas Day in 1984 – the Hall of Famer still hasn’t had his No. 34 retired in New York.
- #3 John Starks – First undrafted player to ever be named an All-Star and the 1996/97 Sixth Man of the Year Award winner. Starks was nails form three-point range and an excellent defender while having to track the likes of Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan for his entire career. His dunk over Jordan and Horace Grant in 1993 is a highlight that defined a career for the gritty Starks.
Is the number 22 retired by the New York Knicks?
Yes. The No. 22 jersey of the New York Knicks was retired in honor of “Big D” Dave DeBusschere. Big D averaged 16.0 points and 0.7 rebounds in 435 games for the Knicks.
Is the number 7 retired for the New York Knicks?
No. The No. 7 jersey has not been retired by the New York Knicks. This may change in the future as the No. 7 was worn by Carmello Anthony, a player that has put together a strong case for being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Is Bernard King’s jersey retired?
No. Bernard King has not had his jersey retired by the New York Knicks. Of all the players eligible but without their number in the rafters, King has arguably the best case.