Of all the wonderful stories, anecdotes and remembrances of the great championship New York Knicks teams of the early 1970s, some of the best are saved for last by Harvey Araton in his 2011 book “The Garden of Eden.”
His interviews with key figures four decades after their feats truly puts them in their proper perspective, not just for the franchise but the sport of professional basketball as well.
I just finished reading the book last night, and a couple of quotes from former players are worth repeating here. First, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe on the Knicks, without a title since his abrupt and bitter departure from the team:
“The history of what’s been here: That’s what every organization is about. If you don’t honor your history, how can you plot your future?”
And “Dollar Bill” Bradley, jumpshooter and competitor extraordinaire and later a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, delivering the eulogy at Dave DeBusschere’s 2003 funeral:
“Championship teams share a moment that few other people know. The overwhelming emotion derives from more than pride. Your devotion to your teammates, the depth of your sense of belonging, is something like blood kinship, but without the complications. Rarely can words express it. In the nonverbal world of basketball, it’s like grace and beauty and ease, and it spills into all areas of your life.”
Araton reports that U.S. Sen. Harry Reid placed the remarks of his former colleague in the Congressional Record. For this young fan, learning all this in middle age about a team that helped me fall in love with basketball deepens my reverence beyond any more words I can write here.