May 15, By Bill Parry
Basketball royalty visited the Chase bank branch on Queens Blvd. on Tuesday, turning a simple Knicks autograph signing promotion into a memorable occasion.
For the nearly 200 fans—many wearing orange and blue jerseys—the afternoon event was something they won’t soon forget.
Bernard King, the prolific scorer who carried the Knicks in the early 80’s, showed up and surprised the fans by high-fiving nearly everyone who waited on line.
Once inside he grabbed a microphone from a DJ to thank the fans for showing up and supporting his old team in their playoff series with the Indiana Pacers.
Former Knick Larry Johnson was also on hand to sign autographs but kept a low profile knowing the fans turned out to see King. “The man’s going into the Hall of Fame in September,” said Johnson.
That is why Bernard King treated the event with extra passion. “Going into the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of the sport, the highest honor,” King said. “I’m an ambassador not just for the sport but for all of New York City.”
The Brooklyn-born King was a four-time all star playing small forward for the Knicks from 1982-87. He was robbed of two seasons in his prime because of major knee surgery.
Fans, young and old, were excited to see the legend in Sunnyside. “He was one of the best Knicks to ever wear the jersey,” said Kevin, who elected not to give his last name. Another fan agreed, saying, “I was a little kid at the time but he was one of my favorites; it’s a thrill to see him here.”
Nick Reiner, an independent filmmaker and unabashed sports fan, was happy to see King. “I remember when he almost beat Larry Bird’s Celtics single-handedly when Boston was at their peak,” Reiner said. “He was really something.”
Many of the fans asked King about the current team’s troubles in their playoff series with the Pacers. “Anything can happen in a seven-game series,” was the mantra repeated by King with a confident smile. He said, “They haven’t played their best basketball yet.”
The Knicks lost to the Pacers on Tuesday night and now trail in the Eastern Conference semifinals 3-1. If the future Hall of Famer knew that only 8 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a postseason series, he kept it to himself.