Fred Klein, Knicks superfan and former Carnegie Deli co-owner, dies from coronavirus at 85
Knicks superfan Fred Klein (r.), seen here with actor Jerry Stiller, died due to the coronavirus on Saturday, his wife tells the News.
Knicks superfan Fred Klein, a longtime Garden courtside fixture, died Saturday from the coronavirus, his wife Terry told the Daily News.
He was 85.
Klein, who also once co-owned the iconic Carnegie Deli, was a season ticket holder for longer than Spike Lee, having purchased his first seat in 1959. He boasted of missing only 43 home games over about 55 years before Alzheimer’s left him unable to attend.
Klein died inside a Manhattan nursing home, according to Terry, after treatments for pneumonia were unsuccessful.
“He was a legend,” she said. “He really was.”
Klein, the son of immigrants, was an Army ranger and semi-professional baseball player in the Red Sox system. He then became a successful restaurant broker and partner in several delis, including the Carnegie Deli, famous for its stuffed pastrami sandwiches, until 1990.
Klein’s business was restaurants but his passion was the New York Knicks. He even delayed his wedding because it conflicted with home game.
“And we lost that game, by the way,” Terry said.
Klein developed a strong relationship with former Knicks coach Red Holzman, and was instrumental in setting up Clyde Frazier’s restaurant in Hudson Yards. More recently, former Knicks players Larry Johnson and John Starks visited Klein in the nursing home to watch a game on TV.
Terry had been unable to visit her husband since March 10 because of the coronavirus regulations at the nursing home. She said three other patients at the nursing home died of COVID-19 and Klein, who was battling dementia and Alzheimer’s, was being treated for pneumonia before going into a coma Friday.
He was buried in New Jersey on Monday and Terry hopes to hold a memorial service when gatherings are permitted.
Klein is survived by his wife, his son Robert Klein, and his grandson and daughter-in-law.