NEW YORK -- Danny Whelan, the longtime trainer for the New York Knicks and the man who gave Walt Frazier the nickname "Clyde," died after a long illness. He was 84.
Whelan, who died Friday, was the Knicks' trainer from 1967-78 --
an 11-year tenure that included the franchise's only two NBA
championships. He also was the trainer for the Pittsburgh Pirates
in 1960 when they won the World Series.
"He'll be missed. He was an integral part of our two
championship teams here," said Knicks executive Willis Reed, whose
dramatic return from an injured hip in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA
Finals helped spur the Knicks to the title.
"When I was trying to get ready for that game, he and I pretty
much spent the whole day together. He was giving me whirlpool and
ice and telling me all sorts of stories about baseball and stuff,"
Reed recalled Sunday. "I knew he was going to get me ready."
Whelan always wore an orange Knicks warmup jersey while sitting
at the end of the bench, a wardrobe choice that became his
Reed recalled how the cigar-chomping, wisecracking Whalen
handled several duties for the team, from booking airline
reservations and hotels to being responsible for the luggage and
equipment and treating injuries.
"One of the most important persons in the whole organization is
the trainer," Reed said. "There are things you tell a trainer
that you never tell anybody else."
Whelan gave Frazier, a future Hall of Fame guard, his nickname
during his rookie season with the Knicks over his flamboyant
wardrobe which seemed to come from the movie "Bonnie & Clyde."
Whelan grew up in San Francisco and spent two years in the Navy
during World War II. He died Friday, one day shy of his 85th
birthday. A funeral will be held Friday at Mary Manning Nursing
Home in New York.