He was a four-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA player at a time where the contemporaries at his position were fellow Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Alex English, Chris Mullin, Adrian Dantley, and Dominique Wilkins. Yet, in many ways, the definitive story of Bernard King is a devastating knee injury, the subsequent and monumental comeback, and a single playoff series of unconscionable greatness against the juggernaut of the 1980s in Bird and those Boston Celtics.
This week, the Basketball Hall of Famer is releasing his memoir, Game Face: A Lifetime of Hard-Earned Lessons On and Off the Court. With the help of accomplished author Jerome Preisler, King had finally decided to give basketball fans young and old the chance to get to know him beyond what they saw under the arena lights.
There are the stories we know about – the incredible battles with Dr. J and Larry Legend, his Christmas Day brilliance in 1984, the fateful night in Kansas City where King’s knee shattered, the resurgence to All-Star form at the twilight of his career. Yet, King also provides insight on his upbringing in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, a tumultuous three seasons as a star for the University of Tennessee, and multiple times of both personal and professional rebirth.
Memoirs are typically promoted with a salacious tell in mind – some boastful claims about one’s off the court life, a rivalry soaked in a deep-seated personal hatred of someone, or an account of a night gone horribly wrong. With King, however, it’s a tome about an introverted kid from the housing projects who willed himself through every test that came his way.
So when asked why was now the time to tell his story, King said that he chose to wait until time had passed, notably when his daughter Amina became a college sophomore, to speak his truth about the personal travails and triumphs.