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Jerry Lucas was one of the great college basketball players. Having led Ohio State to the national championship in 1960, he’s still the only player ever named Big Ten Player of the Year three times. Lucas made his mark on the NBA, too, earning the Rookie of the Year award in 1964, seven All-Star selections and a spot on the list of the NBA”s 50 greatest players of all time.
By the time Lucas joined the Knicks, in 1971, his head for the game was well-known around the league. But he had a secret weapon in his arsenal, one that would be widely revealed only when he came to play in the Big Apple. Lucas had an incredible memory, one that helped him recall opponents’ tendencies and set plays. He could also perform an astonishing parlor trick: He could memorize 50 pages of the New York City phone book in one sitting.
At a party co-hosted by teammate Bill Bradley and the writer Dick Schaap, Lucas demonstrated the trick for chess champion Bobby Fischer, who was awestruck. After retiring in 1974, Lucas went on to a lucrative sideline as a TV personality and guest speaker. In his second career, he’s known as “Dr. Memory.”
Stay tuned to Knicks.com for more as we deliver 70 moments in 70 days leading up to the season opener.