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The Hungry Crowd: Walt Frazier

New York Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier talks about his fashion flair and NYC restaurant.
Walt Frazier’s New York City restaurant.
Walt Frazier’s New York City restaurant.
Photo © Emilie Baltz.

What’s the best part of having your own New York City restaurant, Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine?

I really like to meet and greet the fans, old and new. The biggest trip is the 12- and 13-year-olds who beg their parents to take them to Clyde’s—young kids who obviously weren’t born yet when I played for the Knicks, but they know my stats and like my words and like my suits.

Speaking of sharp-looking suits, how do you keep yours stain-free when you eat the signature guacamole at Clyde’s?

I cover up. I drape the tablecloth across my lap, and I tuck my napkin inside my collar so it covers my shirt. I used to always have a little spot on my tie, and eventually I was like, “C’mon man, you look sloppy!”

Who are the most stylish chefs today?

I think Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster in Harlem is one of the best. When I met him, the first thing he said was, “Oh, man, I thought I was dressed up, but look at you, Clyde! I got to up my game when you come in!”

When you were playing for the Knicks in the 1970s, where did you like to go out in New York?

In those days, I would go over to First Avenue for the original T.G.I. Friday’s and Maxwell’s Plum. And of course there was Studio 54. That’s the place I miss the most, because of the diversity of people, and the scene—the music, the ambience, people just looking to have a good time.

Even during the ’70s, you were always known for keeping a healthy routine.

I learned a lot from my idol and teammate Dick Barnett. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink and ate a lot of seafood and chicken. And also from Cazzie Russell; “Muscles Russells” was a fanatic about healthy food. He used to carry his own teapot into the locker room. Because of them, I started caring about nutrition, vitamins and a proper diet. I even tried being a vegetarian for a while in the ’70s, but that didn’t work out because I just wasn’t getting enough energy.

How did you eat healthfully with all your traveling with the team?

I’ve always hated plane food, so I only used to eat Raisin Bran. I ate it so much then that now, I never eat Raisin Bran except when I’m traveling, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have anything to eat on the plane.

As a Madison Square Garden commentator, you are famous for your Dr. Seuss-style patter: Describe the food at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine in rhyme.

Delicious and nutritious. Tantalizing and mesmerizing.

Published October 2012
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