This is what it meant to Bernard King to be at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, to be among other New York Knicks legends who were honored by the franchise in a halftime ceremony: After doctors told him he suffered, in his words, “a precursor to a stroke” on Saturday, King completed a battery of tests at an Atlanta-area hospital, was released Monday at 10 a.m. and came straight to New York.
“I wanted to be part of this, obviously,” King told Newsday as he wiped sweat beads from his face with a handkerchief as he spoke of his life-threatening ordeal.
“I feel part of the Knick family. I grew up in Brooklyn and had the opportunity to live my dream and watch guys like Walt Frazier and Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere and Bill Bradley on those great teams. It’s certainly a joy to be a part of this.”
King’s stroke “precursor” occurred after he had walked a mile and a half, then sat down for 20 minutes before starting his journey back home. But he said he was able to walk only 10 steps at a time, then had to take a two-minute rest. He repeated that pattern the entire walk home.
“I finally got home and realized I was in trouble and called for an ambulance,” King told The New York Post.
King learned he has high blood pressure and is now on medication.
Three months ago, King fell down 17 stairs and cracked his head open. It may have been an earlier manifestation of the same problem.
“I made it through that (fall). I probably shouldn’t have, but I did,” King told the New York Post. “And so I started getting the same symptoms again (this weekend) and really couldn’t walk or just basically collapsed and called an ambulance.”
King is rarely seen at the Garden anymore. He had a bitter departure in 1987, when then-GM Al Bianchi opted not to re-sign him after King suffered a major knee injury. King went on to regain his all-star status with the Washington Bullets. But in his heart, he always remained a Knick.
And to this day, he still wonders what might have been.
“(Patrick) Ewing and I have talked about that privately,” King recently told Newsday. “If we had the chance to play together, we would have won a title.”