Bernard King (born December 4, 1956) is an American retired professional basketball player at the small forward position in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played 14 seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and the Washington Bullets. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8, 2013. His younger brother, Albert, has also played in the NBA during his career.
He was selected 7th overall in the 1977 NBA draft by the New York Nets, who months later relocated from Uniondale, New York to New Jersey and became known as the New Jersey Nets. In 1977–78, his rookie season, he set a New Jersey Nets franchise record for most points scored in a season with 1,909, at 24.2 points per game. He would later surpass this record with his 2,027 point season in 1983–84, earning the first of his back-to-back All-NBA First Team selections.
The next season, on Christmas Day, 1984, King lit up the New Jersey Nets for 60 points in a losing effort, becoming just the tenth player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a single game. King had scored 40 points by halftime, and finished the game with 19 of 30 shooting from the field and 22 of 26 from the free throw line. The March 23, 1985 injury, which included a torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn knee cartilage, and broken leg bone,required major reconstruction, causing King to miss all of the 1985-86 season.
He used the 1987-88 to solidify his come-back with the Washington Bullets, then launched into three straight +20 point seasons, peaking at a remarkable 28.4 as a 34-year-old in 1990-91. Having played 81 games in 1988-89 and all 82 in 1989-90 he had proved the naysayers wrong both on his skills and durability, then walked away on-top as the 1990-91 NBA’s #3 scorer and an All-Star for a final time.
After a year-and-a-half hiatus, King returned for an ill-fated 32-game stint with the New Jersey Nets at the end of the ’93 season, when knee problems forced him permanently to the sidelines. He retired with 19,655 points in 874 games, good for a 22.5 points per game average and number 16 on the all-time NBA scoring list at the time of his retirement.
In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with inductees such as Rick Pitino and Gary Payton. Some say his candidacy for earlier classes was handicapped by the relatively small number of games he played (874) and the abundance of spectacular small forwards of the era, including the overlapping careers of the superior Julius Erving and Michael Jordan, and other high-scoring “threes” such as Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Dominique Wilkins, and Mark Aguirre.
Career highlights and awards
4× NBA All-Star (1982, 1984–1985, 1991)
2× All-NBA First Team (1984, 1985)
All-NBA Second Team (1982)
All-NBA Third Team (1991)
NBA All-Rookie Team (1978)
NBA scoring champion (1985)
Consensus first-team All-American (1977)
Consensus second-team All-American (1976)
3× SEC Player of the Year (1975–1977)
No. 53 retired by the University of Tennessee