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Billy Knight
Knight (front) in the 1974 Elite Eight with Pittsburgh
Personal information
Born (1952-06-09) June 9, 1952 (age 71)
Braddock, Pennsylvania, US
High school Braddock
(Braddock, Pennsylvania)
Listed height 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Listed weight 195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
College Pittsburgh (1971–1974)
NBA Draft 1974 / Round: 2 / Pick: 21st overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers
Pro career 1974–1985
Career history
1974–1977 Indiana Pacers
1977–1978 Buffalo Braves
1978–1979 Boston Celtics
1979–1983 Indiana Pacers
1983–1984 Kansas City Kings
1984–1985 San Antonio Spurs
1985–1986 CSP Limoges
Career highlights and awards
  • NBA All-Star (1977)
  • ABA All-Star (1976)
  • All-ABA First Team (1976)
  • ABA All-Rookie First Team (1975)
  • Consensus second-team All-American (1974)
  • No. 34 retired by Pittsburgh Panthers
Career ABA and NBA statistics
Points 13,901 (16.9 ppg)
Rebounds 4,377 (5.3 rpg)
Assists 1,862 (2.3 apg)

William R. Knight (born June 9, 1952) is an American former professional basketball player and executive. Playing with the Indiana Pacers in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and later the National Basketball Association (NBA), he was both an ABA and NBA All-Star. He played college basketball with the Pittsburgh Panthers, who retired his No. 34.

In college, Knight was a consensus second-team All-American in 1974. He began his pro career with the Indiana Pacers, earning ABA All-Rookie First Team honors in 1975. He continued with the Pacers in the NBA, and he also played in the league for the Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics, Kansas City Kings and San Antonio Spurs. Knight finished his playing career with a season in France. He became an executive with the Pacers and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. He last served as the executive vice president and general manager of the Atlanta Hawks from 2003 to 2008.

Early life

Knight was born and raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where he attended General Braddock High School- He was a member of the 1970 Section High School Basketball Champions on the General Braddock Falcons.

University of Pittsburgh

A 6'6" guard/forward, he then attended the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), where he starred, and along with Mickey Martin and Kirk Bruce, Knight led the Panthers to the East Regional Finals in the 1974 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, where they lost to eventual NCAA Champion North Carolina State, in a matchup between Knight and NCSU's David Thompson. The game was played in Raleigh, North Carolina. NCSU went on to defeat UCLA & Marquette for the National title in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Knight's performance during the 1973–1974 season, in which Pitt went 25-4 and won a school record, 22 games in a row, earned him 2nd team All-American team status. He is considered one of Pitt's best players ever and was voted to Pitt's all-time starting five.

Knight had his number 34 jersey retired by the University of Pittsburgh on February 20, 1989.

Professional career

Knight spent 11 seasons, from 1974–85, in the ABA and NBA as a member of the Indiana Pacers, Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics, Kansas City Kings, and San Antonio Spurs. He scored 13,901 points in his ABA/NBA career and appeared in two All-Star games as well as one ABA all-star game.

Indiana Pacers (1975-77, 1979-83)

Knight's best years were with the Indiana Pacers, after being selected by both the Pacers and the LA Lakers in the player draft. Knight was voted 1st team ABA All-Star for the 1975–1976 season, his second year in the league after averaging 28.1 ppg. This was the last year of the ABA before the Indiana Pacers merged into the NBA. The following year Knight maintained All-Star status, this time in the NBA after averaging 26.6 ppg — second best in the league that season. After a brief stint with the Buffalo Braves & Boston Celtics, Knight returned to the Pacers in 1978, where he continued his career with them until 1983.

Knight is the Indiana Pacers 3rd all-time leading scorer and is in several other Top 5 all-time categories for the Pacers. His 1976 statline of 28.1 points per game still remains the highest points average by a Pacer in a single season. Knight is one of twenty-three players in NBA/ABA history to average 28 points and 10 rebounds in a season, joining the likes of Wilt Chamberlain (x7), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (x5), Shaquille O'Neal (x5), Elgin Baylor (x4), Karl Malone (x4), Giannis Antetokounmpo (x3), Bob McAdoo (x3), Bob Pettit (x3), Oscar Robertson (x3), Anthony Davis (x2), Joel Embiid (x2), Julius Erving (x2), Elvin Hayes (x2), Spencer Haywood (x2), Dan Issel (x2), Charles Barkley, Walt Bellamy, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, George McGinnis, George Mikan, and David Robinson. Among these players, Knight remains the only one out of the eligible names to put up such a statline and not be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Furthermore, himself, Oscar Robertson, and Larry Bird are the only three to achieve such a statline while not playing at the center or power forward position. A versatile wing player, it was commonplace for Knight to switch between playing the small forward and shooting guard positions over the course of his eleven year professional career.

Buffalo Braves (1978)

Following a brief but successful tenure with the Buffalo Braves in the 1978 season, Knight's play slowly began to decline after facing the superior competition and talent level of the NBA. A primary reason for Knight's initial success in the NBA was the poor state of the Braves franchise upon his arrival. Having recently lost their MVP talent Bob McAdoo, the directionless Braves won only 27 games in Knight's lone season with the franchise. Knight's averages of 23 points and 7 rebounds would nevertheless be enough for the forward to make his third and final career all-star team.

Later Years (1979-1985)

Knight departed from Buffalo via a trade that sent Knight, Tiny Archibald, Marvin Barnes, and a 1981 2nd round draft pick that would become Danny Ainge to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Sidney Wicks, Kermit Washington, Freeman Williams, and Kevin Kunnert. In Boston, Knight's scoring numbers dropped from 22.9 to 13.9. Knight remained a reliable role player throughout the remainder of his career, averaging between 12-17 points for the next five consecutive seasons. He ended his career as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, where he played alongside future Hall of Famers George Gervin and Artis Gilmore for 52 games.

Front Office Career

Prior to joining the Hawks organization in 2002, Knight worked as a front office executive with the Pacers and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies.

Atlanta Hawks (2003-08)

Knight's reign as GM of the Atlanta Hawks was marred by poor drafts. In 2004, he drafted Josh Childress over future All-Stars Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. Childress wound up leaving the Atlanta Hawks to join a Greek franchise. In 2005, Billy Knight drafted UNC freshman phenom Marvin Williams over consensus top point guard and future 9-time All Star and 7-time All-NBA team point guard Chris Paul despite the roster's need for a point guard and glut of young players at the swing position between Josh Childress and Josh Smith. 2006 led to the selection of Sheldon Williams, an undersized power forward, despite glaring needs at guard and future all-star Brandon Roy available.

On May 7, 2008, Knight stepped down as Hawks GM. When announcing his resignation from the team he stated that he had left the Hawks "in much better shape than it was in when I took over."

Personal life

Knight currently lives in Atlanta, and continues to play tennis, a game he enjoys and began playing around the age of 30.

ABA/NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season

1974–75 Indiana (ABA) 80 32.0 .534 .250 .799 7.9 2.1 1.4 .4 17.1
1975–76 Indiana (ABA) 70 39.6 .494 .400 .828 10.1 3.7 1.3 .3 28.1
1976–77 Indiana 78 40.0 .493 .816 7.5 3.3 1.5 .2 26.6
1977–78 Buffalo 53 40.7 .494 .809 7.2 3.0 1.5 .2 22.9
1978–79 Boston 40 28.0 .502 .808 4.3 1.7 .8 .1 13.9
1978–79 Indiana 39 25.0 .556 .873 4.5 2.2 .8 .1 14.7
1979–80 Indiana 75 25.5 .533 .267 .809 4.8 2.1 1.1 .1 13.1
1980–81 Indiana 82 29.1 .533 .158 .832 5.0 1.9 1.0 .1 17.5
1981–82 Indiana 81 19 22.3 .495 .281 .826 3.2 1.5 .8 .2 12.3
1982–83 Indiana 80 54 28.3 .520 .158 .841 4.1 2.4 .8 .1 17.1
1983–84 Kansas City 75 39 25.1 .491 .286 .859 3.4 2.1 .7 .1 12.8
1984–85 Kansas City 16 0 11.8 .449 1.000 .813 1.4 1.3 .1 .1 4.8
1984–85 San Antonio 52 1 11.8 .439 .417 .895 1.8 1.1 .3 .0 6.0
Career 821 113 28.9 .507 .284 .827 5.3 2.3 1.0 .2 16.9
All-Star 2 0 17.5 .526 .000 1.000 7.5 1.0 1.0 .0 12.0


1975 Indiana(ABA) 18 42.4 .568 .000 .845 8.9 2.4 .9 .1 24.1
1976 Indiana(ABA) 3 47.7 .554 .000 .864 10.7 4.0 .7 .0 33.7
1981 Indiana 2 35.5 .533 .625 6.0 2.5 .5 .0 18.5
1984 Kansas City 3 12.3 .333 1.000 1.0 .7 .0 .0 6.0
1985 San Antonio 5 0 9.0 .533 .000 1.2 .6 .4 .0 3.2
Career 31 0 34.2 .550 .000 .837 6.9 2.1 .7 .0 19.5

See also

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