Bernard King: Not Such a Hall of Fame Guy?


You think you know a guy. Bernard King was on the top rung of my sports heroes since 1984, when he had incredible back-to-back 50-point games in Knicks victories. (Try that one, Melo.) Like everyone else, I was overjoyed to see him sweep easily into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In none of the voluminous literature he’s inspired over the last 30 years had I seen anything about … Well, let’s let Peter Richmond tell it:

These are Bernard King’s statistics as a member of the Utah Jazz: five felony forcible sexual-assault charges; three for forcible “sodomy,” two for forcible “sexual abuse.” Convictions after the arrest? Just one, after King pled down to misdemeanor to “Attempted Forcible Sexual Assault.”

Peter Richmond is a name you certainly should recognize. I read him for 20 years while he was a feature writer for GQ, writing about everything that struck his fancy, which was often sports. I also caught occasional pieces by him in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and I gave a highly favorable review to one of his books in The New York Times Book Review.

Richmond wrote the piece I just quoted from for Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter website, which, if you saw the Voice “Best Of” issue last October, you’ll know that I highly endorse: “Bronx Banter goes far beyond the Bronx and baseball with all kinds of terrific interviews (Pat Jordan, Pete Dexter, the late George Kimball) and a terrific array of great reprints from writers from the past like W.C. Heinz, Murray Kempton, Roger Kahn, etc.”

Now you can add to that Peter Richmond. I did not like what I read in Richmond’s piece, which I urge you to read at length.

In addition to the Utah incidents, Richmond identified an arrest in 1994, after King had retired, in which he allegedly choked a 22-year-old woman while intoxicated. King was charged with third-degree assault, and the woman was treated at New York Hospital. And in 2004 King, while working for Bruce Ratner (currently minority share owner of the Nets), was charged with three more accounts of assault and one count of harassment at a Manhattan hotel.

None of this was mentioned in any of the Hall of Fame stories about Bernard King that I saw–not in the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, or The New York Times. Not a word about any of these incidents.

Is it just me? Over the years did I overlook these reports in the Associated Press? Did I not remember them because I wanted to forget? Well, it wasn’t just me. I have combed the dailies in recent days for any of the information that Richmond assembled in his story, and I found none of it; But then, there is no video to go viral, and most of the scandal space in recent days is about a basketball coach who threw balls at his player’s faces and used homosexual slurs.

And if we are to be outraged by that, what are we now to make of what we should have known about Bernard King?

[On the Fame of a King via Bronx Banter]

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