Knicks president is father of year

David W. Checketts, president of the New York Knicks basketball team, was honored as one of the 1994 National Fathers of the Year recently at the Sheraton Manhattan Hotel in New York City.

Past recipients of the award include President Gerald R. Ford, entertainer Bob Hope, broadcaster Walter Cronkite, and golfer Johnny Miller.Addressing a capacity crowd, Brother Checketts, who serves as a high councilor in his stake, responded, "My children are more important to me than

a National Basketball Association championshipT ring - they are more important to me than any other success I could ever have."

He said his great love for his six children stems from parents who loved him and who named him after a great man. "Those of us who are in my religion - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - consider him a prophet. His name was David O. McKay. He said, `No other success can compensate for failure in the home.' As we drive the Knicks toward a championship, I hope and I pray to my Father in Heaven that I'll always remember that lesson."

Most American fathers have to deal with the problem of finding appropriate time for both work and family. "It is a balancing act," he said. Brother Checketts paid tribute to his wife, Deb, who makes sure their family is together in the evenings for dinner where they can sit down together and talk.

"The other thing I try to do informally at least once a month is have an interview with one of my children - not a formal matter - but a discussion about how things are going and what's happening in their lives," he explained.

He said one of his most rewarding experiences as a father has been to see his children become independent - to do things on their own. "I really try to focus on making the children, as young as possible, responsible for their own actions. And that doesn't mean that you leave them drowning when they can't swim. But it does mean that as soon as possible, you teach them how to swim.

"I believe in the doctrine that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime."

Brother Checketts' family philosophy has carried over into professional life. While under his direction, the Knicks have instituted one of the most extensive community-service programs in the NBA. Among other initiatives, the team sponsors the Junior Knicks League, the Stay-in-School Program, and the New York All Star Basketball Classic.

The Knicks initiated the "Frontline Against Crime" guns exchange campaign, and have developed an innovative program to assist New York City Boys and Girls Clubs. Knicks' wives sponsor a breast cancer awareness program. Brother Checketts, members of the team, and coaches speak to youth groups regularly about crime and drug abuse.

Although these are important programs, he recognizes that the bulk of today's social ills can be addressed most effectively in the home. "Even though I would like the Knicks to be a very socially conscious organization, even though I would like us not only to win but to make a difference in our community, I'm certain that the biggest difference in our society will come in each one of our homes and each one of our families," he said.

Prior to being named president of the Knicks in 1991, Brother Checketts served as vice president of the NBA. At 28 years old, he became the youngest chief executive in the NBA when he was selected as president of the Utah Jazz in 1984.

His previous Church callings have included bishop, elders quorum president, and ward mission leader. He and his wife are the parents of Spencer, 14; Katie, 13; Nathaniel, 10; Andrew, 7; Ben, 5; and Elizabeth, 19 months.

Since 1942, the National Father's Day Committee has sponsored the National Fathers of the Year awards. Brother Checketts was one of eight fathers to receive the award this year.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed