Walt “Clyde” Frazier Q&A

by February 21, 2008

By Michael Tillery

So the Knicks were getting blown out and I’m wondering who I’m gonna get with to do a short q + a. Thinking hard… the Knicks are the worst team I’ve ever seen… I decide on Walt Frazier. After New York is thumped 124-84 (it could have been a 60 point loss if Mo didn’t call off the dogs earlsky) I walk over to see if he and Gus Johnson are finished with their broadcast responsibilities. I have a short conversation with Gus about the plight of the Knicks — even a cameraman is weighing in… when this clown is still screaming ‘Fire Isiah”…with a Sixers jersey on.

Nah, seriously?


It’s all bad, if it’s gotten to this..

Seems like Black and Tan was a true friend to the man because during the game he always had one in each hand. The Knicks head trainer, Roger Hind, was getting into it with this cat even though at least 50 feet separated the two. He would shut up for a while after a couple Z-Bo baskets here and there, but did his thing the entire game ad nauseum. He looked like this guy in the lower right hand corner after his hat was rearranged. I’ve done a lot of bouncing and knocked a lot of cats out in my day… damn I wish someone would lift him out of his pink socks and flip flops and…

Ok, I’m trippin’, but this dude had me swoll…

As soon as I thought he would chill, the crowd gives his drunk a$$ exactly what he wanted by screaming the chant— 5 claps and everything.

Philly man, Philly…

I look over to the bench and witness the most morbid melancholy expressions I’ve ever seen on coaches. I then knew I wasn’t gonna get the chance to speak to Isiah for a piece I’m writing. I can only imagine what was going through Zeke’s mind at that particular time.

Oh! The Knicks didn’t score 50 until 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Andre Miller had 8 assists in the first quarter. I really think the Sixers could have scored 200 points. I’m dead serious. Thaddeus Young had a career high 20. Rodney Carney probably would have scored thirty if Cheeks wasn’t so chill.

Yo, the Knicks suck! I’m disgusted and feel like ish having to watch that bs. They’ve effectively given up. There’s no excuse. Pour the gasoline and light the match… Please toss the drunk guy while your at it. He’ll burn faster.

What made me more sick– got the feeling in my gut as I type this– is the locker room. I don’t know how ya’ll do it in New York covering this squad, but I wanted to stuff every single player into the little compartments above their lockers where players keep their little designer toiletries bags. I’m usually a positive writer, but I was heated to see these cats laughing and giggling like they’ve just won a third grade (yeah you read it right, third grade chump) championship or something.

Now you see why I chose to speak with 36 and 19 huh?

Ok, so I’m talking to Walt and Gus getting more pissed seeing Isiah give his post-game presser, when all three of us give a deep sigh at the same time, followed by a laugh.

MT: Walt, what was your dream coming into the league?

Clyde: My dream? Just to be a pro player. I’m the oldest of nine kids, so I can always recall my mother wanting a big house. I used to pray to God, “Please let me be a basketball, football or baseball player–I played all three growing up. I never really thought I’d be an NBA player. I’d never met one until I played in the league. What I had was a good work ethic so when the opportunity presented itself, I capitalized.

MT: Who’d you follow growing up? Who sparked your love for the game?

Clyde: The Big O, Jerry West, Chamberlain, Russell, those were the guys you mostly read about. I never saw any of them play on TV until I went to college in ’63 and ’64. Those guys were pretty much my idols.

MT: Where do you rank yourself in the point guard pantheon?

Clyde: The top ten. What separated me from these guys…You can compare me to a lot of guards offensively, but when you start talking defense? You can’t compare anyone to me but Jordan and maybe a few others.

MT: Damn. So who plays or shall I say, played defense?

Clyde: You had Gary Payton and Jason Kidd who could do both. Stockton, (You all know he says it Staughktun, right?) Magic was a phenomenal offensive player, but when you think of defense you don’t really think of Magic as a shut down player. That’s what separated me from most of the back court men in general. At times, I could control the game on both ends of the court.

MT: What do you see broadcasting the game that’s unique from a player perspective?

Clyde: Well I see more, because you are not out on the court so I have a panoramic view of what’s going on. I don’t have a mind set. I have an open mind and digest everything that I’m seeing. As a player, once you call the play, you just focus in on that particular play.

MT: What are your thoughts on European expansion?

Clyde: It’s inevitable. The game is so popular over there. The fans want it. We have so many European players–a third of the league now–so it’s the next step.

MT: Is it realistic? How are players going to adjust from playing on the west coast and then head off to Paris?

Clyde: That’s what we do. We go to the West coast. We go to Oakland. We go to Phoenix. Or we go to Paris. We go to Rome (Clyde laughs as if realizing the ridiculousness in it all). Once we get to Europe, it’s all just a short hop. You just gotta get there.

MT: What is clutch in your opinion and who is clutch right now in the league?

Clyde: Clutch is coming through with the game on the line like Michael used to do. That’s why he’s considered perhaps the greatest player ever. When the game was on the line, he always delivered.

MT: See, I was asking because I call you 36 and 19. You don’t see those type of performances now in a Game 7 setting.

Clyde: Oh, you’re right. That was clutch (Clyde looks off reminiscing, hope he wasn’t thinking of those short a$$ shorts) with the game under duress.

Now you have stars. You have Kobe. You have James. These guys are right there. They’ve taken over that clutch title from West, Robertson, Elgin, Michael Jordan and myself. There’s a good young group of players coming up that are very clutch.

MT: Who is the best player now and who is the best of all time?

Clyde: A lot of people say Kobe. I kind of agree with that right now, but James? He’s right on his tail.

Of all time? I couldn’t say one guy because I saw Chamberlain, who was the most prolific scorer. I saw Russell, who was the most dominant defensive guy. I saw Kareem who is the leading scorer in the history of the game. I saw Jordan. Those four guys would be right there as my choice.

If I had to choose one guy? I would say Kareem. He won at every level. He dominated in this game. He has 6 rings. He has the scoring title without even trying. If he had Wilt’s mindset, he would have had 50K points. He was very team oriented in what he did.