By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Talk about a bank shot!
Brooklyn may Nets territory but a couple of legends from that “other” professional basketball team in town created a great deal of excitement when they stopped by a Bensonhurst bank to sign autographs for fans.
John Starks and Larry Johnson, former New York Knicks http://www.nba.com/knicks/ players, met hundreds of fans at JP Morgan Chase at 1901 86th St. Tuesday afternoon and signed basketballs, pictures, posters, and T-shirts.
They also played a game of Knicks Trivia with fans giving the fans a chance to win tickets to a game at Madison Square Garden.
The Knick City Dancers also made an appearance at the bank.
Fans like Mark Goldberg began lining up inside the bank an hour before Starks and Johnson arrived. “I’m just going to shake their hands and say thanks. They gave us a lot of great memories. I’ve been a fan of Larry Johnson’s since he was in college,” he said.
Johnson played on the great University of Nevada Las Vegas http://www.unlvrebels.com/ teams in the early 1990s.
“Me and my son-in-law,” Goldberg said, pointing to Devin Crowley standing behind him on line, “are going to challenge Johnson and to a game of two on two!”
Josh Rosenberg, who was near the head of the line, said he planned to tell the Knick legends how grateful he was to have seen the great basketball they played. Johnson, a 6 foot 7 forward, was a key player on the Knicks team that won the Eastern Conference Championship in 1999. Starks, 6 foot 5, was a guard on the 1994 Knicks team that went all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to the Houston Rockets.
“Thanks for the memories. That’s what I’m going to tell them. To get as close as they did, going to the championships, was amazing,” Rosenberg said.
The appearance by Starks and Johnson at the bank was part of a new Knicks community initiative called Basketball in the Boroughs, a program the Knicks co-sponsor with Chase Bank.
Members of the Knicks past and present conduct basketball clinics for kids and make public appearances in all five boroughs.
The program began in December with Queens. Staten Island fans got to meet the Knicks in January. February has been designated the month for Brooklyn.
The Knicks hosted a youth clinic at the Brownsville Recreation Center, a facility that will also be renovated with funds donated by the Knicks and Chase.
In addition to the stop in Bensonhurst, the Knicks also held a Basketball in the Boroughs event at Restoration Plaza, 1380 Fulton St.
The Knicks also plan to salute Brooklyn at their game against the Toronto Raptors at The Garden on Feb. 13. The national anthem will be performed by Brooklyn native Melissa Fiore and the Knicks will honor the memory of former coach and youth mentor, Greg Jackson, a former Knick who was a well-known figure the borough.
From Bensonhurst to Donetsk and back, Paulie Malignaggi never stopped talking, tweeting or punching.