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Bernard Crowned King Of Toughness
There's sheer physical toughness and then there's strong-will that best defined the career of Bernard King
"Only the great ones can tunnel vision and block out pain and that's what Bernard King did," commented coach/commentator Hubie Brown.
Battling all sorts of ailments, a strained knee, followed by dislocations on both of his middle fingers and a flu, that confines a majority to the hospital bed for a week, had explicitly no grip on Bernard's inner strength, as the King ran away chipping in a game high 44 points and out-dueled Isiah Thomas and Detroit Pistons in the eventual game 5 decider at the 1984 Playoff series. Bernard King just couldn't be denied.
The 1984-85 season got under way in a bang, while the brightest blasts inflicted (during the period) reached stratospheric heights; namely, the impeccable and illustrious back to back 50 point games and the career high 60 point scorcher against New Jersey Nets. But in the 55th game bad luck intervened, a nasty collision onto an opponent struck Kings' knee blowing it out instantly. Despite missing the rest of the season, he won the league scoring title with a 32.6 avg.
The injury was so severe King was unable to play the following season (1985-86) and only lasted six games the season after that (1986-87). knicks gave up on him before 1987-88 season began and subsequently resurfaced in Washington as a member of the Bullets.
His refusal to subside into oblivion from such a devastating injury (MCL) is what sets King apart from other players. Statistics and honours are ways of measuring a player's talent, but they tell you nothing about his heart, which in King's case, is the size of a lion's.
Different approach, but class still remain immutable
Gone were the thunderous drives in the lanes, post up banging down low and some plays above the rim. Now insert a rejuvenated Bernard King, where acclimatizing towards a certain game style highly favoured that reconstructed knee of his.
"I'm more versatile now, in NY, I was strictly a low post player, but in Washington, my game has evolved because I worked on all facets of the game, specifically, my outside shooting," assumed King.
Not only King made his improbable comeback onto the hardwood, but actually triumphed over the more evolved 1990's game, in such a way, he was once again a force to be reckoned with in the scoring column (averaging 28.4ppg, 2nd only to Jordan), which earned him a selection to the 1991 All-Star game for the fourth time. What can you say, indestructible?
There was only one direction with Bernard and it's always been on the upside. So setting sights on limitations is never an alternative, particularly when exceptional will and determination enrich physical capabilities beyond comprehension.
King embodied the true warrior spirit, sitting firmly at the top of all-time mentally tough player category. You can take Jordan's flu game heroics into account, as surreal as it was, would pale beside the obstacles once defied by the Brooklyn native.