Knicks broadcaster and legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier is one of the most beloved NBA players of all-time. His career has been highlighted by his flashy play on the court and suave style off of it. It’s actually been forty-five years since Clyde himself was drafted into the league.
With the 2012 NBA Draft taking place Thursday night, Clyde hosted fans at his new restaurant, “Clyde Frazier’s Wine & Dine” in the heart of New York City. The restaurant (its ceilings flanked by an array of the legend’s stylish suits from over the years) certainly epitomizes the coolness of Clyde, complete with a chill atmosphere, including a sit-down area for dinner, a bar & longue, and even a free-throw shooting station. With a bevy of flat-screen TVs surrounding the place, fans are guaranteed to keep tabs on their favorite teams while they wine & dine.
I caught up with the man himself to reminisce about him getting drafted all those years ago. What was it like back then? Find out as you read on to hear Frazier’s thoughts about the NBA draft, what the Knicks should’ve done, his summer plans, and more!
Q: Tonight marks a special moment in the lives of many top NBA prospects. Take me back to that night in 1967. What do you remember about the day you were drafted?
A: When I was drafted, there was no hoopla like this! The day I was drafted, I remember going to class. Seattle called me and said they would select me if I were available. So I went on with my classes, but when I came back around 3PM, I got a call that the Knicks had drafted me instead. Throughout the whole process, the Knicks hadn’t even talked to me. I was totally shocked!
We never did anything like these prospects do now. We never had any workouts or conversations. I recall Chicago and Baltimore had called me, but that was about it.
Q: That’s a big shame. You of all people weren’t given the opportunity to show off one of your flashy outfits.
A: When I was drafted, we had a small press conference in New York, and that was it. Actually, I brought out the sharkskin suit that time. Even before I was on the Knicks, I was getting dressed up. I wore a white shirt and black tie. I’ve always been into fashion.
Q: Let’s talk about tonight’s NBA draft. If you’re in the Knicks’ position, what type of talent do you look for in the second round?
A: The Knicks are always going to look for the best player available. They could use a shot blocker/rebounder, and maybe a point guard too. Those are the team’s needs, but aside from addressing those, I’m sure they’d just look for the best player. I’m optimistic though because of what they’ve been able to do with a pick like Landry Fields in the second round, and even Iman Shumpert at seventeenth overall last year came as a surprise because no one knew him.
Q: That’s interesting. Drafting a bruiser or a point guard would immediately put in place a backup for the likes of Tyson Chandler or Jeremy Lin. Don’t the Knicks have a more pressing need at shooting guard for someone who can spread the floor?
A: A shooting guard is always nice, and the Knicks could use one. But I think I’d prefer someone who plays one of the other positions more. Fields is a two-guard, but I understand he doesn’t really score. What’s nice about him though is he does all the other things well. The team already has scoring and now under Coach Woodson, they’ll aim to become even more defensive oriented, so it’s all about building around the core.
Q: Talking about building the team and assessing all the young talent, I know MSG Network will be covering the Knicks’ run during Summer League in Las Vegas. You’ll be a part of the broadcasts, I’m guessing?
A: I’m looking forward to going out there in July. I always enjoy seeing the young players come out, and at the same time, get a little nice vacation while hanging out in Vegas too.
Q: With all this new talent entering the NBA so quickly, how do you as a broadcaster brush up on each player's skills to make sure you’re ready to make solid analysis?
A: A lot of times, I’ll be surfing the channels and I’ll catch old games. Because Summer League is coming up, I just try and read a lot, gathering information. Starting tomorrow, we’ll all start breaking down the players’ strengths and weaknesses, so that’ll help familiarize me with the cream of the crop.
Q: The Knicks have seen quite a few players thrive in Vegas and show potential in recent years. One of those players was Toney Douglas. I know you always say Toney is one of the few Knicks players to ever seek out your advice as a Knicks legend, so can you shed some light on what happened to him, and what he needs to do to bounce back next season?
A: Toney needs to work on his ball handling and penetration. He needs to think more like a point guard--- has to dish before he can swish. He has a tremendous work ethic, but he needs to work on improving his weaknesses and regaining that confidence. He lost a lot of confidence last season.
Q: If Toney’s not guaranteed to get playing time next season, how does he go about regaining that confidence, even as he waits in the wings for a shot at redemption?
A: That’s the X-Factor about players! How do you regain it? How do you handle coming off the bench? It’s not for everybody, but if he wants his career to prosper, he has to find that balance. No matter what his situation is, he has to come in with that same intensity. He’s an excellent defender who can create havoc. With Coach Woodson focused on defense, that’ll be a plus for him.
Q: Let’s talk about the restaurant. Obviously it’s a cool spot, and could prove to be a great summer hangout for a lot of folks. You’ve hosted a bunch of former teammates and a couple of current Knicks here so far, but is there anyone you’re still looking forward to having in the near future?
A: Yea, definitely. Especially Iman Shumpert, because he just moved out here around the corner! Hopefully he’ll be coming in more. Then I’m going to start talking to some of the other guys, like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Once they hear about the food, I’m sure they’d like to come in!
Q: You do a lot of different events here too. I know former MLB player Jim Leyritz came by to do a book signing, and you even had MSG Network’s own Alan Hahn host his “Knicks Fixers” here at the end of the season. Anything else planned during the summer?
A: We try to tweet a lot about those events. Alan came in and did a nice little Q&A session. I liked that. We’d like to do some more of those. Maybe we can try to get Boomer & Carton in here too to do a segment or something! That would be cool.
Q: I know you mentioned the restaurant tweets a lot about upcoming events, but you yourself have a personal Twitter account these days, too! What made you do it? Follow anyone cool that you like to keep tabs on?
A: I haven’t really gotten a chance to follow too many people because I just started. But I just got this new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3, so I now I can start tweeting more often. I’ve been fighting it, but now I think it’s time I step up and enter the 21st century. It’s something I enjoy doing, though. I like communicating with the fans and letting them know what I’m up to, so it’s going to add a new dimension to my game.