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Happy 68th Birthday, Walt Clyde Frazier

puma clyde autographed the knicks wall

Good day, Mr. Clyde Frazier,

It’s with the utmost respect that I open this letter with a formal salutation for an equally distinguished member of the New York Knicks Hall of Fame. Wearing the tightest of threads each night, you call games on MSG; your attire is that of class and style. While it’s become part of your reputation, it’s my honor to acknowledge every stitch that goes into what has made you the most colorful patch that is permanently sewn into the quilt of NYK since 1967. Even though my acknowledgements on Twitter veer into the realm of satire, I imagine your sartorial choices are made with the deepest of thoughts. Your Cow Hide suit, though it predates Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress, should be in a museum. The Cowboy Jacket with the leather strips—Giddy Up! When you wear Houndstooth, I know where to find you when the camera pans wide shots of the arena’s sidelines. When I hear the incessant ringing of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” song in my ear, as catchy as it is, I yawn because it can barely hold a candle to your wardrobe. Sorry, you might not know who JT is. I hate it when sometimes Mike Breen or Spero Dedes try to quiz you on your pop culture knowledge, only to yield a hard “no” from you. Then I chuckle because the microphones go silent for a split second, then I wonder what’s being said in the brief silence. Another compliment about what you’re wearing is probably the saving grace.

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What about your shoes? I feel like it’s the most underrepresented part of your snazzy repertoire. People get taken back so much by the suits, who knows if they’ve officially seen it all. What if you started wearing your signature Puma Clyde sneakers again? Are you the suit and sneakers type of guy? Timberlake and plenty of rappers don that combo. My bad, I’m probably going over your head again. I caught the MSG special where you went to St. Croix, discussing gardening, and sailing. Clearly you dress for the occasion—linens, shorts on the beach, polo shirts to match. As always style was the topic of discussion as you reflected on the gangster hats you wore back in the ’70s that were akin to Clyde Barrow, the partner in crime of Bonnie Barrow. To earn Clyde as a nickname because you were crafty at picking other players’ pockets should be immortalized in a song somewhere. One hopefully you could play on a turntable around the house. Pretty cool, yeah?

Being commemorated has been part of your ongoing legacy as an NBA Hall of Famer. The Puma Clyde sits in my closet neatly wrapped in plastic grocery bags. This time last year, I caught my main man Ricky Powell rocking the same orange and navy Clydes—which you autographed—when we were kicking it in Australia with the Acclaim mag crew. He’s a true fan who keeps your name in the conversation anytime he talks Knicks. There was the Willis Reed pin that also adorned his navy suit, your old teammate. Ricky remembers the ’70s and never lets us forget it. I admire older gentlemen like him for their knowledge of Knicks lore because my affection for the Knicks came after you retired. My loyalty to my hometown hero, Patrick Ewing, came up recently when me and my tax guy at H&R Block talked at length about NYK. He dropped serious knowledge on me about how the chant “DEFENSE” was originated in Madison Square Garden. Maybe it’s one of those things that we New Yorkers feel like we originated. Challenge us and we’ll strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger like Michael Douglass in Falling Down. The wise man advised that I do more homework on the era he holds so dear. Players like you, Willis Reed, and the late-great Ray Williams brought out a twinkle in his eye. It looked like he was tearing up thinking about this golden era of New York basketball. It might have been his praise for Williams’ obituary which he said was written by Harvey Araton, a long-standing Knicks beat reporter for the New York Times. As I spend more time listening to the elders talk about how things have changed with the Knicks, the more I realize they stay the same with the gameplay and how familiar players of now are to the past. The John Starks comparison to J.R. Smith ain’t all to it. Learning about the 1-2 punch of the Knicks back court like you and Reed, or Williams and Michael Ray Richardson can be felt watching Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni running point guard and shooting guard, respectively. I digress, this was supposed to be about the style you wear, not so much about the style of play, yet they go hand in hand!

Tonight is Bobble Head Night at The Garden. You have your own bobble head in your likeness, dressed to the nines in, what else… the COW SUIT! #Winning. Until we get to raise our glass, and tip our hats to you tonight, we also remember the legacy of your low profile sneakers from 1973. At some point I’m gonna have to wear these Clydes. There’s no way I could sell such a precious artifact of my home team. Thanks for staying in the spotlight. Happy birthday Clyde.

P.S. I voted for you as New York’s coolest in MSG’s Bracket.

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