(Long Island, N.Y.) There have been many men over the years that have been looked at as ‘Mr. Knick.’ Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Patrick Ewing to name a few. But there was another all-time great who is sometimes overlooked, but Dick McGuire logged more minutes than any of the aforementioned in numerous roles with the franchise.
The Bronx-born former guard passed away on Wednesday of natural causes at the age of 84 at Huntington Hospital. A part of the Knicks history went with him. McGuire had a role in the organization for 53 of the 64 years they have been in existence. First as a player, then head coach, assistant coach, chief scout and most recently senior basketball consultant.
The loss is not forgotten on their current President of Basketball Operations. “Dick McGuire was the epitome of what it means to be a Knickerbocker: pride, tradition and class,” said Donnie Walsh. “It was an honor to watch him play for our hometown team and I consider myself very lucky to say I worked alongside a man who shaped the National Basketball Association for parts of all decades of its existence.”
A first round pick (eighth overall) out of St. John’s University by the Knicks in 1949, McGuire was named to the All-Star team in five of six seasons in New York (1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956) and was instrumental in leading the Knicks to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, beginning in 1951.
On April 3, 1957, McGuire was traded to the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons in exchange for a first round pick the following year, which turned about to be Mike Farmer. In the Motor City, he made All-Star in 1958 and 1959. For his career, McGuire played in 738 games, 17,170 minutes and averaged 8 points per game. But where he really shined was in the assist category.
In his rookie campaign, McGuire led the league with 386 assists and finished in the top 10 every year in total and per game, with a 5.7 career assists average. He took over as player-coach for the final 41 games for the Pistons in the 1959-60 season and retired from the hardwood after compiling a 17-24 record.
McGuire took over as a full-time coach the next season and found his way back to New York as head coach in 1962. He was on the Knicks bench for three seasons and had an overall 197-260 coaching record in both stops.
On March 1, 1992, McGuire’s jersey number 15 was lifted to the rafters at Madison Square Garden and the next year, he was enshrined in the James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. He is also a member of the Garden Hall of Fame and Walk of Fame, St. John’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, New York City Sports Hall of Fame and New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. If there’s an honor in Gotham hoops, McGuire is a part of it.
For a franchise that has had it’s fair share of stars, none shone brighter than McGuire.