Walt Frazier got the nickname Clyde after the New York Knicks’ trainer started calling him that after seeing the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde. Frazier had started wearing hats similar to the ones worn by Warren Beatty as Clyde in the film. The name stuck with Frazier who was known for his style in addition to his game.
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How did Walt Frazier’s nickname become Clyde?
If you know anything about Walt Frazier off the court, you probably know he had, and has, style. Walt was one of the original NBA style icons. There is a website that continues to track and rate the suits he wears to call games as the Knicks announcer.
Walt used to be a style icon in New York City and was deeply embedded in the Manhattan nightlife. He hung out at Studio 54 with Stevie Wonder and Teddy Pendergrass. He saw the Jazz greats playing all night in Harlem clubs.
And in his early years in the city in the late 60’s, he developed his style. One key to good style, according to Frazier, was to be true to your own ideas. It was this attribute that led to the nickname Clyde.
Frazier claimed that he started wearing wide-brimmed fedora hats before the film Bonnie & Clyde came out. Everyone else was wearing skinny brims at the time, but Walt was willing to be his own man. He said the guys were laughing at him at first for wearing the hats.
But the laughs disappeared when the iconic movie Bonnie and Clyde came out. Bonnie and Clyde starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as the infamous gangsters Bonnie and Clyde.
The movie started slowly but became a huge hit. Variety says it changed American cinema. In it, Clyde wore wide-brimmed Fedoras. Those became part of the style of the day and Walt was out front as he often was.
Seeing Walt in those same hats, the Knicks trainer dubbed him Clyde and the name stuck.
What was Walt Frazier known for?
Walt “Clyde” Frazier was known for two things: fashion and basketball. Walt’s fashion sense was a huge part of his identity. He continues to stand out for his fine suits and was one of the first style icons in NBA history.
Before he made news for his clothes, Walt started getting attention for his game. Walt Frazier became one of the best college players in the country at Southern Illinois. The school moved up Division 1 basketball after Walt led them to two national titles in Division 2.
Walt got his first taste of the city after being drafted 5th overall by the Knicks in 1967. Walt’s game was that of the all around floor general. He averaged nearly 20 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds for his career.
Walt was also a great defensive player. He made 7 All NBA Defensive 1st Teams.
Frazier also made 4 All NBA 1st teams and 2 All NBA 2nd Teams. He was a 7x all star who was one of the dominant players of the 1970s. He made the All-Decade team alongside Elvin Hayes, John Havlicek, Dr. J and, of course, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
More than anything else in his basketball career, Walt is associated with winning for the Knicks. Along with Willis Reed, Walt was the leader of the only two Knicks squads to win the NBA title in 1970 and 1973. For that, he will always be associated with the New York Knicks.
Walt Frazier is known for his style, his amazing basketball game, and for being deeply connected to New York City. Walt was a part of the city’s nightlife, and its fashion scene and , most notably, won the only two NBA titles the city has ever seen.
Summary: Walt Frazier’s Nickname
Walt Frazier became Clyde through his connection to the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde. He got the name from a trainer who saw him in the same wide-brimmed fedora hats Warren Beatty wore in the film. Walt claimed he wore the hats before the film came out, and that makes some sense as Frazier was known as a style icon in addition to being a great player.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.