A near-legendary New York
sports figure, John Starks was a shooting guard
for the New York Knicks
from 1991 to 1998, who now plays for the Utah Jazz
Starks was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1965. In his college career, he played for four different schools in four years, and went undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 1988. Starks had a brief stint with the Golden State Warriors in 1989, but was not re-signed at the season's end. Starks went to the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and starred for the Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets in 1990. He was signed by the New York Knicks at the start of the 1991 season.
Starks quickly became a favorite of coach Pat Riley for his aggressive play on both ends of the floor. He was a tenacious defender, and an explosive scorer who was equally at home shooting three-pointers and throwing down monster dunks.
In 1993, Starks averaged 17.5 points, and in 1994, his best season, he averaged 19. He was the complementary scorer to Patrick Ewing that the Knicks had been lacking in past seasons.
In the 1994 NBA Finals, Starks had one of the worst games of his career. After having a potential game-tying shot blocked in the closing seconds of Game 6, Starks shot a miserable 2-for-18 in Game 7, as the Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets.
Starks was oddly forgiven by the New York fans, and after two tough seasons in 1995 and 1996, enjoyed a resurgence in 1997, coming off of the bench behind Allan Houston. Starks averaged 14 points per game and won the Sixth Man of the Year Award, given to the best bench player in the league.
Starks was traded after the 1998 season, back to the Golden State Warriors, as part of a package for notorious coach-choker Latrell Sprewell. Since the trade, Starks's career has been in decline. He hasn't shot better than 40 percent since 1997, and has bounced around from the Warriors to the Chicago Bulls (who he refused to play for), to the Utah Jazz, where he failed to fill Jeff Hornacek's shoes and was relegated to the deep bench by the end of the 2002 season.
Starks in his prime was a multitalented guard, who could score, defend, and pass well enough to run an offense for short periods of time. Starks was an unrepentant gunner who could just as easily make six in a row as miss ten in a row. He remains one of the most popular Knicks ever.