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Who Wore it Best? Knicks #26

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Who Wore it Best? Knicks #26

We could have easily skipped over #26 this week. It’s a no-brainer that Mitchell Robinson should earn 100% of the votes, a significant leap from the 33% he garnered three weeks ago during the WWIB #23 segment, in which Marcus Camby won by a landslide. However, #23 posed Mitch with real competition. The #26 presents him with a lack of a better word, none. Sure, others have worn it, but unlike the #28 which by default goes to Andrew Lang, any real competition this week is non-existent. So why are we running it? The simple answer is: why not? Moreover, with the #27 and #29 never worn, and #28 being worn just once, who wouldn’t want to hold on to their 20s just a little longer before hitting 30?

The next segment I give you my word will be a much more riveting one between Julius Randle and Bernard King. Until then, enjoy Mitch vs. whoever.

The #26 jersey has been worn eight times in total, never for more than two seasons by one player. Eddie Mast was the first Knick to wear the number in 1971 and 1972. The number would then remain unused until Mike Davis wore it in eight career games during the 1982-83 season. The list of eight names isn’t entirely filled with unknowns. Shannon Brown was a huge fan favorite during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers but was unable to replicate the same level of success in New York when he joined the Knicks in 2014. Kelvin Cato, and David Wingate both had lengthy careers in the NBA before joining the Knicks toward the end of their respective careers. Beyond these names though, none come close to the level of success Mitchell Robinson experienced during his rookie year in 2019, when he burst onto the scene as a second-round pick and arguably the steal of the draft.

Mitchell Robinson: Mitch’s best year came during his rookie year, the lone year he wore the #26 before switching to #23. Robinson, when healthy is a force to be reckoned with. But ever since his breakout year as a rookie, his availability has been limited with multiple injuries. Since his sophomore year, Robinson has missed 38% of the Knicks’ regular season games appearing in just 254 out of 410 games.

As a rookie, Robinson appeared in 66 games and started in 19. On paper, his number was better than modest averaging 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and an astonishing career-high 2.4 blocks per game. He finished 8th in Rookie of the Year voting. In just the 14th game of the Knicks season, Robinson set a new Knicks rookie record with nine blocks vs. Orlando. A little less than a month later Robinson scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a Knicks 143-120 rout over Atlanta.

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

His best game of the season came on March 28th, 2019, when he became the first Knicks rookie since Willis Reed in 1965 to record 19 points and 21 rebounds. Robinson would finish that season second in the NBA in blocked shots per game behind Myles Turner and earned his place on the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team. Not too shabby for the 36th overall pick.

After his rookie, Robinson elected to change his number to the #23 in honor of two friends who passed away. “It really represented my friend [Jacquez], one of my best friends that I grew up with,’’ Robinson told Serby. “He passed away (in a car accident). He wore 2, and then my other friend [Demarcus] that also passed away ’cause he got shot, he was 3. I just put their numbers together.”

With no disrespect to Robinson’s two friends, considering the success Robinson experienced while wearing #26 and the frequent injuries he has faced since changing numbers, perhaps he should consider switching back.

Shannon Brown: As far as popularity goes, Brown is undoubtedly #2 on this list, however that popularity would mostly come from Lakers and Suns fans. Brown was a 6’4” guard who could F-L-Y! Unfortunately, unlike Metropolis, flying only gets you so far in the NBA if not paired with other superior abilities. Brown had a lengthy NBA career as a journeyman. He played 12 seasons for eight different teams, plus five additional stints with the G-League. Brown was originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006. Over the span of two seasons, he split time between Cleveland and the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, and Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA’s G-League.

Brown continued to bounce the NBA and G-League until he landed in L.A. in 2009. Being in the right place at the right time has its advantages though, as Brown became a 2-time NBA champion as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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After Brown elected not to exercise his option to extend his contract with the Lakers, he signed a one-year deal with Phoenix in 2011. During the shortened lockout season of 2011-12, Brown had a career year averaging 11 points per game in 23.7 minutes of playing time. After his stellar first year with the Suns, Brown signed a two-year deal worth $7 million. He earned every dollar of it during the 2012 season with nearly identical numbers of 10.5 points per game in 23.8 minutes of playing time.

After a short stint of two 10-day contracts with the San Antonio Spurs in early February 2014, Brown signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks on February 27th, 2014.

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

Ten days later the Knicks signed Brown to a second 10-day contract, and ultimately signed him thru the rest of the season on March 20th. Brown ultimately appeared in 19 games for the Knicks, averaging just under 8 minutes per game. Following the end of the season, the Knicks waived Brown.

Brown would go on to sign with the Miami Heat for the following and final season of his 12-year career.

Honorable Mentions: David Wingate, Kelvin Cato

Even though Wingate never averaged more than a point per game during his Knicks career, we gave him the nod Wingate simply because of the veteran leadership he was able to provide to the Knicks off the court during their unprecedented NBA Finals run of 1999.

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

P.S. Congrats to Andrew Lang (great first name) on winning WWIB #28!

Poll

Who Wore it Best? #26

  • 82%

    Mitchell Robinson

    (23 votes)



28 votes total

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