Walt Frazier stood at the mic, and the sharp-dressed man of teal introduced his former Knicks backcourt partner, Earl Monroe. The 71-year-old Hall of Famers were together again Tuesday at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine in Manhattan to promote their latest dish-and-swish venture — the Gotham Ballers of the Champions Basketball League, coming in 2017.
“I think unequivocably the best backcourt ever,” Frazier said.
They are two legendary reminders that the Knicks haven’t claimed an NBA championship since Frazier and Monroe were playing with Phil Jackson and the rest in 1973. The team hasn’t even made the postseason these last three years.
But after Jackson’s extensive interior redecorating job at the Garden, both Frazier, the Knicks’ TV analyst and Gotham’s president, and Monroe, the Ballers’ GM, can see the Knicks being a playoff team this season, barring injuries.
“Yeah, definitely,” Frazier said. “Once a New York team gets in the playoffs, anything can happen. The crowd can really catapult them. And it’s going to be a very exciting team. They’ve got a lot of quickness, a lot of razzle-dazzle out there.”
Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee highlight the list of new guys.
“They could very easily be a playoff team,” Monroe said. “ . . . All of a sudden, this is not the same typical New York team that we’ve had before. This is one that has a little brains to it, a little smartness.”
Frazier said Jackson “filled all our needs . . . The only problem, of course: Can they stay healthy? All these guys have injury history. That’s the gamble that he’s taking.”
Carmelo Anthony will continue to be a leader, taking up activism for social change.
“I saw the metamorphosis,” Frazier said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ That’s good. That’s the leadership we’ve been waiting for from him, on and off the court. He’s an icon, man. People listen.”
Frazier and Monroe also championed the Champions league, which will be big on fan interaction. There will be 16 teams, featuring players who have been out of the NBA for one to three years with some exceptions. There will be a 14-game, July and August schedule.
Champions CEO Carl George said the teams will play at college venues, including St. John’s, Baruch and possibly Pace for Gotham’s games.
Former Knicks Renaldo Balkman, Eddy Curry, Al Harrington and Kenyon Martin are on the roster. So is Shawn Marion. Former Knick John Wallace is the coach.