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John Starks
John Starks
Position(s) Shooting guard
Jersey #(s) 3, 9
Born August 10, 1965 (1965-08-10) (age 44)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Career information
Year(s) 1988–2002
College Oklahoma State
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA)
Points     10,829
Rebounds     2,129
Assists     3,085
Stats @
Career highlights and awards

John Levell Starks (born August 10, 1965) is a retired American professional basketball player who gained fame while playing at shooting guard for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association in the 1990s. Starks was listed at 6'5" (1.96 m) and 190 pounds (86 kg) during his NBA playing career.


Early life

Starks was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he attended Tulsa Central High School.[1] He bagged groceries for several years before playing basketball for several community colleges. He finished his collegiate career at Oklahoma State University.


Although he was passed over in the draft, Starks worked his way into the NBA after stints in the Continental Basketball Association and the World Basketball League. He was eventually signed by the Golden State Warriors in 1988, but left in 1990 to try out for the New York Knicks. In one practice, he tried to dunk on Knicks center Patrick Ewing. Ewing threw him down and Starks twisted his knee. The team was not allowed to release him unless it healed by the end of December. When it didn't heal by that time, the Knicks could not release Starks, and thus kept him. As a result, Starks has on many occasions referred to Ewing as his saving grace. He eventually became the starting shooting guard, becoming a key player on the team and playing eight seasons in New York from 1990 to 1998. Starks was a posterchild for the Knicks' physical play during that era, along with teammates Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley. Starks was a participant in the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

Starks was at the center of one of the most famous plays in Knicks history, which has now become known as "The Dunk". During a 1993 playoffs series against the Chicago Bulls, a series that the Knicks lost, Starks was in the right corner of the court being closely guarded by B.J. Armstrong. Ewing came to set a screen for Starks, who faked to the left like he was going to use the pick, and then fiercely drove along the baseline and dunked over Horace Grant, and Michael Jordan with his left hand, in the picture providing late help. The Knicks lost this playoff series, and every playoff series against the Bulls in which Jordan played.

One of the low points of Starks's career came in the 1994 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets. In the closing seconds of Game 3 and the Knicks trailing by 3, Starks was fouled by Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon while attempting a three-pointer. At the time, however, the NBA only allowed two free throws during a foul on a three-point shot. Starks made both, but the Rockets won the game 93–89 (the league would change the rule to allow three free throws the next season). Starks and the Knicks then watched[2] their home court host the New York Rangers first Stanley Cup celebration in 54 years, with their 3–2 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It served as an inspiration[2] for the Knicks to recover to take a 3–2 series lead going into Game 6.

However, in the final seconds of Game 6, Olajuwon blocked Starks's last-second three-point attempt to give Houston an 86–84 victory. In Game 7, Starks had one of the worst games of his career, shooting 2-for-18 from the field, including 0-for-10 in the fourth quarter. The Rockets went on to win the game and the championship, denying New York from having both NBA and NHL championships in the same year.

In 1995, Knicks coach Pat Riley left the Knicks for the Miami Heat after a dispute with then-General Manager Dave Checketts. The Knicks later hired Don Nelson, resurrecting the tensions from Starks's first year with Golden State. But Nelson was fired in the middle of his first season, and replaced with Assistant Coach Jeff Van Gundy. With the addition of Allan Houston in 1996, Starks became a mentor as Houston took his spot in the starting lineup. Starks continued to be a steady contributor off the bench that season, and in 1997 he received the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. Two years later, Starks was traded back to the Warriors, along with Chris Mills and Terry Cummings, for Latrell Sprewell.

Later career and retirement

After his stint with Golden State, Starks played for the Bulls and the Utah Jazz before failing to make an NBA team in 2002 and retiring with 10,829 career points. He currently works for the Knicks as an alumnus and fan development official, and as a pre-and-post-game analyst on MSG Network’s home Knicks game coverage. He has also served as the head coach of the Maulers, a Slamball team. His autobiography, John Starks: My Life, was published in 2004.


Starks's fiery intensity often led to emotional displays on the court. Reggie Miller, star shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, was often a provocateur and target of his ire during their great rivalry.

He is most remembered for "The Dunk" on Horace Grant and Michael Jordan, for his fierce tenacity, desire to win, and heart, and for being one of the most popular and beloved personalities in New York and Knicks history.

Starks is the Knicks' all-time leader in three point field goals (982).[3] He was the first player in NBA history to make 200 three-pointers in one season; his 217 during the 1994–95 NBA season broke Louie Dampier's single-season professional (NBA or ABA) record of 199 during the 1968-69 ABA season. Dennis Scott broke Starks's record a year later with 267; it now belongs to Ray Allen, who made 269 during the 2005-06 NBA season.


88-89 GSW 36 0  8.8  .408 .385 .654 .40  .70 1.10  .8  .64 .08   4.1 
90-91 NYK 61 10 19.2 .439 .290 .752 .50 1.70 2.10 3.3  .97 .28   7.6 
91-92 NYK 82 0  25.8 .449 .348 .778 .50 1.80 2.30 3.4 1.26 .22  13.9 
92-93 NYK 80 51 31.0 .428 .321 .795 .70 1.90 2.60 5.1 1.14 .15  17.5 
93-94 NYK 59 54 34.9 .420 .335 .754 .60 2.50 3.10 5.9 1.61 .10  19.0 
94-95 NYK 80 78 34.1 .395 .355 .737 .40 2.30 2.70 5.1 1.15 .05  15.3 
95-96 NYK 81 71 30.8 .443 .361 .753 .40 2.50 2.90 3.9 1.27 .14  12.6 
96-97 NYK 77 1  26.5 .431 .369 .769 .50 2.20 2.70 2.8 1.17 .14  13.8 
97-98 NYK 82 10 26.7 .393 .327 .787 .60 2.20 2.80 2.7 .95  .06  12.9 
98-99 GSW 50 50 33.7 .370 .290 .740 .70 2.60 3.30 4.7 1.38 .10  13.8 
99-00 GSW 33 30 33.6 .378 .348 .833 .30 2.50 2.80 5.2 1.12 .09  14.7 
99-00 CHI 4 0   20.5 .324 .300 1.000 0  2.50 2.50 2.8 1.25 .25  7.5 
00-01 UTA 75 64 28.3 .398 .352 .802 .40 1.70 2.10 2.4 .97  .13  9.3 
01-02 UTA 66 1  14.1 .368 .305 .805 .20 .80  1.00 1.1 .50  .00  4.4 

See also


  1. ^ "Thursday a big day for Central", Tulsa World, September 23, 2001.
  2. ^ a b Boeck, Greg (1994-06-17). "Knicks Motivated by Rangers' Title". USA Today: p. 09C. 
  3. ^ New York Knickerbockers Career Leaders

External links



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