Basketball may be the No. 1 sport in New York, but the Knicks no longer will be kings of the NBA.
It isn’t easy to strip away the superlatives, to assess Bill Bradley calmly, to look at both the veteran pro and the rookie pol.
DeBusschere is, without a doubt, New York’s Most Valuable Player.
Bradley has been described in print as poised, polished, glib, suave, witty, studious, ambitious, a paradox, exciting, brilliant, even devilish.
To many, who had become accustomed to the Knicks being have-nots unable to make the playoffs for seven straight seasons (1960-1966), their “instant success” seemed almost unreal.
It was that zest that separated Riordan from most players and made him the darling of Capital Centre fans.
Holzman knows the game of basketball. And he probably knows it better now than back in 1957, when St. Louis fired him after a losing record.
An All-NBA forward five times, he can also do a more-than-adequate job at center. And at either position, he can shoot from the outside about as well as any man his size ever has, and he can rebound with the best.
Madison Square Garden is probably the only basketball arena in the country where, when the home team falls behind in the fourth quarter, a chant begins in the lower tiers and swells until it sweeps the arena: “Dee-fense! (clap, clap), Dee-fense! (clap, clap) Dee-fense! (clap, clap).”
So through it all, one shining fact evolves. Basketball and Willis Reed are so entwined, the two are one.