For the fourth time in the past five years, a former member of the Bullets/Wizards organization has been elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. One of the league’s most prolific scorers of his era, Bernard King joins college coaches Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian, former Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton and former Virginia star Dawn Staley among the 12 inductees.
Though he is beloved mostly for his time as a New York Knick — where he had his best years and most memorable games — King actually rejuvenated his career in Washington after recovering from a devastating right knee injury.
Few players were able to return from torn anterior cruciate ligaments when King suffered his injury in 1985, but he made a miraculous recovery with the Bullets after missing nearly two full seasons.
King averaged 22 points in four seasons in Washington, posting his best season in 1990-91, when he was an all-star starter at age 34 and finished third in scoring behind Michael Jordan and Karl Malone at 28.4 points per game and earned all-NBA third team honors. He had another knee surgery to clear some cartilage after that season and the Bullets waived him in January 1993.
After finishing that season with the New Jersey Nets — the team that drafted him seventh overall out of Tennessee in 1977 — King retired. In college, King starred as half of the Ernie and Bernie show with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld.
In 14 seasons with the Nets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, Knicks and Bullets, King scored 19,655 points, made four all-star teams (1982, 1984, 1985 and 1991), and was named all-NBA first team twice. He won the scoring title in 1985 and retired with a career average of 22.5 points.
Former Wizards/Bullets Michael Jordan, the late Gus Johnson and Ralph Sampson have all entered the Hall of Fame in the past four induction ceremonies. King will be honored on Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.