Wednesday, September 28, 1977

Bernard King Wipes the Slate Clean

He is hundreds of miles from Knoxville, the scene of the crimes, but he still flinches whenever a patrol car cruises by, and he still worries whenever he sees a cop. Force of habit. The word is “paranoia.” Bernard King is familiar with its meaning. “I’m thinking inside that they know me, that they’re looking for me, even though I know they’re not,” he says, flashing a nervous grin.

An All-American in each of his three seasons at Tennessee, he also led the SEC in arrests. He was arrested for four traffic offenses, twice for possession of marijuana and once each for burglary, prowling and resisting arrest. Most of the charges were dropped for insufficient evidence or technical incompetence (of the rest of the team?)

Just 20 years old, the Brooklyn native Bernard King, the 7th overall pick by the New York Nets, has an image problem; the problem is his image. “I’ve been operating under the premise that my pro career with the Nets in the NBA was down the drain.” A Nets official said, “we’re taking a helluva chance on him.”

It’s tempting to say that such losers as the Nets and King deserve each other. The Nets have worked overtime to make themselves the worst team in pro basketball. They traded Billy Paultz, Larry Kenon, Brian Taylor, John Williamson and Tiny Archibald for a collective bucket of porridge, to say nothing of their give away of Dr. J. The Nets met with King twice before the draft and even had a former FBI agent check him out and make a character evaluation. Only after the Nets were satisfied that King was “good people” did they draft him 7th overall. Imagine how they felt just five weeks later when King was arrested for burglary, prowling, possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. “Good God, we were sick.”

Everyone in camp seems to love him.

NYT Kornheiser 9/28/77

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