Cartwright was the third overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft selected by the New York Knicks. As a member of the Knicks, he made his only All-Star Game appearance in his rookie year of 1979-80. Cartwright averaged more than 20 points per game in his first two seasons for the Knicks. His playing time decreased during his time in New York, initially due to injury (he suffered four separate fractures to his left foot) and then due to the arrival of number-one pick Patrick Ewing which changed Cartwright’s role to that of a backup center.
On June 27, 1988, Cartwright was involved in a trade between the Knicks and Chicago Bulls, which included sending Cartwright to Chicago and Bulls forward Charles Oakley to New York. The Bulls needed a tall center to counter the size in the Eastern Conference, and to complement Michael Jordan‘s scoring and Scottie Pippen‘s defense. The Bulls were willing to part with Oakley, the league’s second-leading rebounder in the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons, because of the rapid development of Horace Grant. Three years later, the Bulls won their first NBA championship under the head coach Phil Jackson, himself a former Knick, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. The Bulls went on to win the NBA title again in 1992 and 1993 with the same core team.
Jordan retired after the 1992-93 season, and the Bulls were defeated by the Ewing-led Knicks in the 1994 NBA Playoffs. Cartwright left the team as a free agent and signed with the Seattle SuperSonics. He only played in 29 games for the Sonics, and retired after the 1994–95 NBA season.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …salutes Bill Cartwright.
|1979–1988||New York Knicks|
|1996–2001||Chicago Bulls (assistant)|
|2004–2008||New Jersey Nets (assistant)|
|2008–2012||Phoenix Suns (assistant)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||12,713 (13.2 ppg)|
|Rebounds||6,106 (6.3 rpg)|
|Assists||1,390 (1.4 apg)|