Basketballer finds paradise in St. Croix

Basketball, with an ever expanding fan base and the public’s growing interest in the lavish lifestyles of its superhero athletes, is no stranger to opulence. Once in a while, there is an individual who stands out as a true testament to style, grace, endurance and yes, even quality of life.

If the name Walt Clyde Frazier comes to mind, it just might be due to his ongoing love affair with basketball, the tranquil island of St. Croix and definitely, his continued dominance in the game of life.

The star basketball player, known as much for his flamboyant style of dress as for his acumen while playing for New York, can still be seen at every Knicks game weighing in with solid sports commentary and well-seasoned talking points. Frazier continues to be admired by millions of fans old and new.

Television commercials which air frequently touting “Just for Men” cosmetic products as well as the recent re-release of “Rockin Steady : A Guide to Basketball & Cool” published by Triumph Publishing more than 30 years ago, designate this basketball icon as one who still adds new fans daily. Many of them may not have ever seen him play ball but are ultimately intrigued by his style, his on-air presence and, of course, his longevity. The book, which chronicles his early life, has been so well received that Frazier will be signing autographs on Saturday, June 16 at Hueman Bookstore in Harlem, just minutes from a newly purchased penthouse.

In 1979, Frazier purchased a single structure property on one and a half acres in St. Croix for a reported sum of $275,000. That initial purchase has now become a five and a half acre compound consisting of one large main house surrounded by 13 smaller guest houses located within walking distance. Each one- and/or two-bedroom building has its own descriptive name, including Seaview, The Clubhouse, the Pool House, the Pink House, the Loft and the Island House. Many are outfitted with individual wood decks with hot tubs and/ or an in-ground pool. Strategically placed gazebos dot the landscape throughout the property, creating unique relaxation spots which, offer sumptuous views of flowering bushes, trees and tropical plants.

“St. Croix is my sanctuary,” Frazier said when asked how he balances New York, St. Croix and basketball throughout the year. “I love the nuances, the sun, wind and the rain,” he added. He often tends to the gardens himself when he is on property. At other times,they are meticulously cared for by a full time gardener.

Frazier and long-time girlfriend Patricia James, treat the property with care and distinctive respect. Ms. James manages the property in his absence throughout the basketball season and is equally dedicated to keeping its flowering existence on solid ground. “Walt is seriously committed to these plants, trees and bushes. When he comes back here at any given time, it’s one of the first things he checks,” she revealed.

Ms. James, a former radio on-air personality who spent 13 years at Orlando, Florida’s popular jazz station WLOQ – 103.1, is equally at home in the garden or behind a microphone and now spends her time commuting between St. Croix and New York City where Frazier recently purchased three adjoining penthouses in Harlem.

Ms. James is also kept busy with property management duties as “Seaview,” the single property in St. Croix dedicated to short-term rental, has recently become a “hot” property.

The breathtaking A-frame, two-bed, two-bath enclave, offers a panoramic view of coastline as it drops down to the expansive shore, and consists of a fully equipped eat-in kitchen, living room and family room complete with wall-mounted flat screen TVs. It also offers the ultimate convenience of its own double stack washer and dryer. Fully furnished, the vacation paradise also features a large deck with a hot tub to die for. And yes, you can walk down to the beach.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, comprising St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, is a vacationer’s paradise and is often referred to as America’s own “tropical playground.” Walt Frazier initially made his purchase in St. Croix not knowing if he would remain on the island, not anticipating the allure and certainly not realizing he would increase his presence more than four-fold. “I knew that I wanted to spend time in the fresh air and came here when my son was 12 years old. I fell in love with it and still feel the same way about it some 30 years later,” Frazier admitted recently.

In any case, it looks as if this basketball icon has found home court advantage both inside and outside the NBA.

More from Around NYC