Article - Autumn 2021

Whatever Happened to Frankie King?

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A tale of Brooklyn, basketball, brothers, and madness

By Jay Neugeboren | September 7, 2021
Frankie King, playing for Brooklyn’s Madison High School in 1953. He would mysteriously drop out of UNC without appearing in a single game. (Courtesy of Stephen King)
Frankie King, playing for Brooklyn’s Madison High School in 1953. He would mysteriously drop out of UNC without appearing in a single game. (Courtesy of Stephen King)

On a cool, early summer evening in June 2015, I was at the Friars Club in midtown Manhattan to celebrate my friend Talia Carner’s new novel, Hotel Moscow. I started talking with Talia’s husband, Ron Carner, and we quickly realized that we’d gone to rival Brooklyn public high schools—he to James Madison and I to Erasmus—and as soon as we discovered our mutual love of basketball, we did what aging Brooklyn hoop junkies usually do when they get together: we exchanged tales of local ballplayers we’d seen and played against—All-City and All-American players who had gone on to celebrated college and pro careers. And when we started naming players from our schools who played in the NBA—Rudy LaRusso from Madison, Billy Cunningham and Doug Moe from Erasmus—Ron stopped suddenly and asked if I’d ever seen Frankie King play.

See him play?” I said. “He was the most exciting ballplayer I ever saw back then.” I added that I could still picture him clearly: a lefty, a shade under six feet tall. When he drove to the basket, nobody could stop him.

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