John Starks: From Bag Boy to the NBA

John Starks

John Starks charged through the NBA turnstiles as one of the most prolific undrafted shooting guards to ever play the game. After not even playing High School basketball his senior year, Starks completed his 13 year NBA career scoring over 10,000 points and earning an all-star selection. He is most known for his era with the Knicks where his emotions, intensity and competitive nature were on display ever game.

John also played for the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and Utah Jazz. He proved that despite how rocky the road, the destination is always possible if you believe.

John Starks embarked on a very unconventional journey before making a poster out of Michael Jordan in the 1993 NBA playoffs. Hailing from the Sooner State, Starks was your average “John” when it came to basketball at Tulsa Central High School. He didn’t have letters falling out of his mailbox or college coaches meeting him after third period. In fact, he played three games his senior year before quitting to help make ends meet.

Fast Forward 3 junior college basketball seasons, John Starks is donning black and orange competing for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Here, he averaged 15.4 points, 4.7 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. This single season was good enough for John Starks to get his ticket punched to a Golden State Warriors Training camp.

After a year with the Warriors, Starks remained hopeful after being cut and sent to the Continental Basketball Association where he played for the Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets and Silver Rockets.

“I knew I was going to get back into the league.”John Starks

A year later, Starks was invited to the New York Knicks training camp as a free agent. Just as unorthodox as his college career, John’s career with the Knicks began similarly. Because he got hurt in training camp, the Knicks couldn’t cut him until he was back healthy.

Starks used this somewhat of an opportunity to not only recover but also assure the Knicks that keeping him on the roster made sense. Coincidentally, Mark Jackson was suspended 2 games and that opened a door for John Starks that he head butted his way through (literally).

“The way we rate players, he comes off as the most productive off-guard in the Atlantic Division.” -Pat Riley

After joining the Knickerbockers, John Starks went on to be one of the most fearless and beloved players in Knicks history. Despite not being able to bring a championship to the Garden, Starks did a lot more for Knicks fans through his “tough play” against rivals like Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan.

“He’s one of my all-time favorites. You have to admire someone who was bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly and despite being cut and in the CBA saying to himself, ‘They’re not going to hold me down. I’m going to make it.” -Spike Lee

The last real Knick fan, Spike Lee Source: Instagram

The last real Knick fan, Spike Lee
Source: Instagram

John Starks was earning $3.35 per hour at Safeway during his senior year of high school. He was eventually promoted to cashier and stock boy. His intentions when he enrolled in to his third junior college were to listen to his mother and get an education; not play ball.

Instead, John bullied his way in to a NBA uniform and made it his for 13 years picking up a NBA all-star selection (1994) and a sixth man of the year award along the way. Sometimes you have to create your own path and write your own story. For John, it began as a bag boy.

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