Best Season as a Knick: 1987-88- 13.6 PPG, 10.6 Assists, 2.5 Steals- Rookie of the Year
When putting a top 35 list together as we have been doing on this site, it can be very difficult. One of most difficult parts is placing players on the list who were very good, but tenure with the Knicks was not very long. For example, we all know based on ability Carmelo Anthony would be no worse than top 8 of all time Knicks, but because he has only been a Knick for half a season, he is not even close to being that.
Mark Jackson is another Knick’s player who falls into this category. As a player, many could argue Jackson should be higher than 14 on the list, but because he only played 6 1/2 of his 17 NBA seasons with the Knicks. The Knicks drafted the hometown product out of St. Johns with the 18th pick of the 1987 draft. They even brought him back in the 2001-02 season at age 35.
Jackson was phenomenal as a rookie, averaging over 13 points and 10 assists a game, winning rookie of the year honors. Jackson fit in perfectly dishing the ball off to Patrick Ewing and helping lead the Knicks to the playoffs. He played another 4 seasons as a Knick, but was traded to the Clippers as part of the Charles Smith and Doc Rivers deal.
Jackson’s play as a Knick declined after his first two seasons. Once Pat Riley took over as coach, it signaled the end of Jackson’s Knick career. Riley wanted a quicker point guard who played defense, and Jackson did not fit that criteria.
Looking back at it, the Clippers probably got the better end of the deal just for Charles Smith alone. Smith was a disaster and cost the Knicks in the 1993 series against the Bulls. However, when you looked at Smith’s numbers as a Clipper, he was a very good player and appeared to be a great complement player alongside Patrick Ewing. Rivers, on the other hand, was a solid player and provided more of what Pat Riley wanted from his point guard.
Something else that hurts Jackson status is the fact that he played on the Pacer teams during the Knicks heated rivalry with them. I hated the Pacers and hated Jackson even more. Whether it was his stupid looking tear drop or his shimmy dance or pointing to the basket when taking a foul shot, I could not stand him. When I think of Jackson. I do not remember him as a Pacer, not a Knick.
By Rob Bonanni