Knicks discuss significance of playing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Kevin Knox was held to eight points in the Knicks' 127-109 loss to the Thunder at Madison Square Garden.
Kevin Knox was held to eight points in the Knicks’ 127-109 loss to the Thunder at Madison Square Garden. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

David Fizdale takes pride in guiding the New York Knicks on the court, especially on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"It’s just an honor,” he said Monday before the team’s 127-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden. “Obviously, I got to do this when I was in Memphis, and it’s just a special day. A lot of us owe our lives and our careers to him and a lot of people that put their lives on the line for us. To be able to celebrate him on his 90th birthday with sport and competition and as the New York Knicks head coach is a real honor.”

When asked what comes to mind when he hears King’s name, Knicks guard Courtney Lee called him a leader.

“His last name is King, but I view him as a king for all he stood for,” Lee told amNewYork. “Fighting for equality and justice and risking his life and his family’s life at times to fight for the freedom and the rights for people that he didn’t even know all across America.”

Like his coach, Lee appreciates what it means to be playing on the day King’s birthday is observed.

"It symbolizes that this is where we’re at today in society, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people like Dr. Martin Luther King,” Lee said. “During his time, you couldn’t drink at the same water fountain; you couldn’t ride the bus; you couldn’t go to school with people, and now it’s the norm, so you never want to forget all the people who lost their lives and fought for us."

Knicks rookie Kevin Knox and second-year guard Damyean Dotson, too, shared what Dr. King means to them.

“One of the greatest probably people and influencers in history, he kind of paved to way for us," Knox told amNY. “Civil Rights Movement, Nobel Peace Prize winner, so there are a lot of accolades and a lot that he’s done to change this world.”

“Back home, I know my family’s probably at the parade,” said Dotson, a Houston native. “I always went to the Martin Luther King Parade, so just to be able to play on the same day, that’s my parade."

"Service and sacrifice,” came to mind for big man Luke Kornet. “For all that he did and put upon himself to benefit millions of people, not only in his time but in the future, he really took it upon himself to just benefit everyone and create equality of opportunity for everyone."