There was a time when the New York City point guard mattered. Not just the NYC player, but specifically the point guard.
To be a city guard, was to be a point god. A guy that could do everything, but more than anything else, like Shawn Carter said, “intuition is there even when my vision’s impaired.”
A heady NYC point guard had the 6th sense. A floor general, an unselfish pass-first leader that put their teammates in the right positions on the court, like a grandmaster maneuvering on a chess board.
There’s a reason why they call Madison Square Garden, The Mecca of basketball.
Names like; Lew Alcindor, Chris Mullin, Jamaal Tinsley, Rafer Alston, Dolph Schayes, God Shammgod, & Kenny Anderson.
New York City basketball’s influence on how the game’s evolved over time can’t be measured.
But there’s one thing guys like Kareem and Mr. Chibbs never managed to do, and that’s play for the team that calls The Garden it’s home…they never played for the Knicks.
From the playgrounds of the five boroughs, to the bright lights on the biggest stage, the guys featured this week represented their respective high school’s in the city, and donned the royal blue and orange. Win, lose, or draw, these guys put on for their city.
Honing his skills at the famous Rucker Park courts in Harlem, Dean “The Dream” Meminger was just the 2nd player to be named All-City 3 years straight behind the aforementioned Lew Alcindor.
In hindsight, Meminger was always going to be tied to MSG. First featuring as a Rice Raider, then a Marquette Golden Eagle. In 1970 he led Marquette to an NIT Championship over St. John’s at the Garden, taking home MVP honors as well.
Selected 16th overall in the ‘71 draft by his hometown club; the Knicks. Meminger was a member of the ‘73 title winning team.
After an illustrious high school and college career, he lasted in the NBA for six seasons. Four of which he played for the Knickerbocker’s, averaging 5.6 ppg in just over 18 minutes.
Battling substance abuse issues dating back to his playing days, in 2013 Dean Meminger passed away at the age of 65.
Out of the guys we’re covering this week, “The Dream” is the only one who won a Championship, the last title the Knicks won. His number 14 was retired by Marquette, and hangs from the rafters at Fiserv Forum.
This writing stuff is easy, but finding pictures of these guys in high school was hard.
Mark Jackson starred at Bishop Loughlin, winning a state title in ‘83 with the Lions. He then opted to stay home and play for the Red Storm of St. John’s with fellow NYC hooper, Chris Mullin.
The pair led the Queens based college to a Big East title on the Garden floor, and a Final Four appearance in ‘84-’85.
With the 18th pick in the ‘87 draft, the Knicks took Jackson, and he spent 5 of his first 17 years in the NBA as the Knicks point guard.
The consummate one guard, Jackson was an All-Star in ‘88-’89, but ended up getting dealt to the Clippers, in a deal that saw Doc Rivers and Charles Smith head back to Manhattan.
Knicks fans would tell you Jackson’s relationship with New York has always been complicated. A player can’t control their transactional destiny, but it seemed like Jackson was constantly attempting to seek payback for being traded in the first place.
With stints on the Pacers and Raptors, he was a part of some of the fiercest playoff games the Knicks had in the 90s…he just played for the wrong team.
Nowadays you’ll find Mark Jackson on ESPN and ABC calling games with his former coach, Jeff Van Gundy. Similar to Jackson’s second spell with the Knicks in the early 2000’s, Van Gundy carried him then, and carries him now.
The kid from Coney Island. Stylish, charismatic, brash, and above all else. Talented.
Stephon Marbury was New York’s Mr. Basketball in ‘95. He led the Lincoln Railsplitters to a P.S.L.A. Championship at MSG over the Brooklyn school, Robeson.
Following in the footsteps of former NYC legend, Kenny Anderson, Starbury spent one year at Georgia Tech, where he was 1st team All-ACC, taking the Yellow Jackets to the Sweet 16.
Drafted 4th overall by the Bucks, and traded to the Timberwolves in ‘96, Marbury didn’t put a Knicks uniform on until 2004.
That was the issue right there. Steph didn’t play for New York during the prime of his career. A 2-time All-Star and 2-time All-NBA 3rd team selection, Marbury’s tenure with the Knicks is marred by disappointment and discontent.
Steph wasn’t the last NYC high school point guard to wear our colors, but we just can’t seem to catch lighting in a bottle.
NYC will always be the birth of basketball, and it holds special meaning for us east coasters that desperately want our Knicks to win. When the Garden’s rocking, there is truly nothing like it.
There’s a certain mystique that comes with being a Knick that’s a hometown hero. From the playgrounds to the Garden. Knick fans will just have to keep waiting for their messiah.