22.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 52 FG%, 17 3P%, 73 FT%
One of the most explosive scorers of his era, Bernard King had a fascinating career. Major knee reconstruction cost him two years at the peak of his abilities. When he returned to the court despite great odds against a comeback, he had to adjust his style of play to accommodate his diminished physical abilities. He proved many skeptics wrong when he became an All-Star. He poured in more than 19,000 points in a career spent with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Washington Bullets.
King came from a distinguished basketball family. His younger brother, Albert, was once considered the greatest high school player in the country and went on to play for several years in the NBA. Bernard was a prep star at Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton High School and moved on to a turbulent career at Tennessee marked by stardom on the court and a number of controversial incidents off of it. He declared himself eligible for the 1977 NBA Draft after his junior year, during which he had scored an average of 25.8 points per game.
The New York Nets (the franchise moved to New Jersey before the 1977-78 season) selected King with the seventh overall pick. As a rookie he led the team in scoring and placed 10th in the NBA with 24.2 points per game. He earned a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Team but lost out on Rookie of the Year honors to the Phoenix Suns’ Walter Davis. The Nets, however, brought up the rear in the Atlantic Division with a 24-58 record.
King followed his rookie campaign with a 21.6 scoring average. But although he was a dominating player, his off-court problems continued. The Nets dealt him to Utah, where he played only 19 games in 1979-80 before seeking treatment for substance abuse. ‘I realized that if I drank, there would be no career, there would be no life,’ he told HOOP magazine years later. ‘There’s not much more you can say after that.’ [Read]
[Warning: The following video contains strong language]
[Sources: NBA.com, Basketball-Reference.com]