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Red Holzman and the Knicks

Lawrence Bush
August 9, 2017

William “Red” Holzman, who coached the New York Knicks from 1967 to 1982 and led them to two National Basketball Association championships (1970 and 1973), was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1920. Following wartime service in the Navy, Holzman played with the National Basketball League’s Rochester Royals, which won the league championship in his first year, for which he was named Rookie of the Year (1945). Holzman retired as a player nine years later but stayed on in basketball as a scout and then a coach, accumulating a lifetime record of 696 wins and 604 losses, making him the second winningest coach in history up to that point. In 1985, he was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Knicks retired number 613 in his honor, equaling the number of wins they accumulated on his watch. His championship teams, notes Ira Berkow in the New York Times, “featured, in one or both seasons, Willis Reed at center; Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Cazzie Russell and Jerry Lucas at the forwards, and Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Dick Barnett at the guards. The teams brought an excitement to the Garden that the so-called Mecca of Basketball had rarely seen from hometown professional play.” To see the 1970 Knicks in action (and commenting on the action), look below.

“On a good team there are no superstars. There are great players who show they are great players by being able to play with others as a team. They have the ability to be superstars, but if they fit into a good team, they make sacrifices, they do things necessary to help the team win. What the numbers are in salaries or statistics don’t matter; how they play together does.” --Red Holzman

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.