Former Knick Dave Stallworth, who played a key role in the team’s NBA Finals win over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970, died Wednesday at age 75.
The Knicks held a moment of silence for Stallworth before Thursday night’s game against the Nets at Madison Square Garden.
“The man affectionately known as ‘Dave the Rave’ leaves a legacy of perseverance and faith, and a comeback story that will live forever in Knicks history,” the Knicks’ public address announcer told fans before the moment of silence.
Stallworth, a native of Dallas and a two-time All-American at Wichita State, was selected by the Knicks with the third overall pick in the 1965 draft. Stallworth appeared in 80 regular-season games during his rookie season, averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He followed that by averaging 13 points and 6.2 rebounds in the 1966-67 season. Stallworth then missed the next two seasons with a heart condition.
Stallworth returned to the Knicks for the 1969-70 season, appearing in all 82 regular-season games and averaging 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds. But Stallworth’s biggest moment came against the Lakers and star center Wilt Chamberlain in the NBA Finals. After Knicks center Willis Reed tore a muscle in his leg during Game 5, Stallworth, a 6-7 small forward, was one of multiple players used to defend the 7-1 Chamberlain. Stallworth hit a key reverse layup over Chamberlain late in the fourth quarter as the Knicks won Game 5 and eventually the series in seven games.
He was also part of Knicks history in 1971, when the Knicks traded him and Mike Riordan to the Baltimore Bullets for All-Star guard and future Hall of Famer Earl Monroe. With Monroe and Walt Frazier paired in the backcourt, the Knicks made it back to the NBA Finals in 1972, losing to the Lakers in five games, and in 1973, beating the Lakers in five games.
The Bullets traded Stallworth to the Phoenix Suns in September 1974, but he was waived a month later. The Knicks signed Stallworth, but he appeared in just seven games in the 1974-75 season before he was waived.
Current Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall spoke about Stallworth on Thursday.
“We’ll be playing this tournament with a heavy heart, because he was a true gentleman and a wonderful representative of Wichita and Wichita State University,” Marshall said.
The No. 10 seed Shockers won their opening game in the NCAA South Regional Friday night in Indianapolis, defeating No. 7 Dayton, 64-58.
Stallworth averaged 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game over his career. In 340 career games with the Knicks, he averaged 10.3 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
With Neil Best and Al Iannazzone