We continue our look at who you voted for as your top 25 favorite Knicks of the Modern Era (1979-present, also known as the “Three-Point Era,” as that is when the three-pointer was adopted by the NBA)! Every weekday we will reveal two more Knicks until we reach #1! Click here for a master list of all Knicks revealed so far!
8. Anthony Mason
On his Wikipedia page, there is a note that Anthony Mason was able to compete with other power forwards despite his relative short stature (he was under six foot eight) because he “compensated for his lack of size by his impressive musculature.” That’s true, of course, but wow, that’s quite a way to put it, huh?
In any event, Anthony Mason was a third round pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, but by 1990 he was effectively out of the NBA. He managed to work his way back to the league in the 1991 season, when the Knicks discovered him playing in the USBL. It is likely that Mason would have eventually caught on with a different NBA team, but he was especially lucky that his first year as a Knick was also Pat Riley’s first year. Mason fit in perfectly with Riley’s vision for the Knicks – a tough, hardnosed player who seemed to be more than the sum of his physical attributes – a player who, for a lack of a better cliche, truly “had a will to win.”
Mason slowly worked his way up the Knick depth charts, to the point where in the 1994 NBA Finals, it was Mason who guarded Hakeem Olajuwon, not Patrick Ewing. During the 1994-95 season, Mason won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. That was Riley’s last season. The next year saw Don Nelson become the Knick coach, and he envisioned Mason as a point-forward, who the Knick offense would revolve around. You would think that being given so much responsibility would have made Mason like Nelson, but he really didn’t seem to and the two bickered constantly. Meanwhile, Ewing was also not thrilled with the whole “we’re making this other guy the focal point of the offense” deal, so Nelson was getting it from all ends. He was eventually fired and replaced with Jeff Van Gundy.
After the 1995-96 season, the Knicks dealt Mason to the Charlotte Hornets for Larry Johnson. Mason excelled for the Hornets for a few years (even making an All-NBA Third Team in his first/best season with the team). Eventually the Hornets dealt him to the Miami Heat where Mason made his first, and only, All Star team in his only season with the Heat. He actually started for the East in the 2001 All-Star Game! Mason then signed with the Milwaukee Bucks as a free agent, where his production inexplicably fell off of a cliff. I mean, he was 35 years old at the time, so a dramatic plunge in production is not shocking, but still, he was really good in 2000-01 and below average in 2001-02 then terrible in 2002-03 and bam – out of the league for good. It was kinda crazy (I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was rooting against the Bucks at the time, so I was sorta happy to see it happen, but still, way weird).
In his five seasons with the Knicks, Anthony Mason produced 37.8 win shares (which is a whole lot of Win Shares in just five seasons). For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!
7. Bernard King
Okay, try this on for size – it might more or less encapsulate why the Knicks have not had a whole ton of success in the past, oh, three decades plus. Since Willis Reed won the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1969-70, only one Knick has finished in the top two in the Most Valuable Player balloting. Just one. That one player? Bernard King, who came in second to Larry Bird in the voting for the 1983-84 award. Crazy, huh?
Anyhow, Bernard King came to the Knicks in 1982 after stints on the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warrirors. King was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft and made the NBA All-Rookie team. He quickly became the clear star on the Knicks, as he was a brilliant scorer, I mean a brilliant scorer – we’re talking about a .585 TS% in 1984-85 while taking over 24 field goal attempts a game!!! That was good enough to lead the NBA in scoring. His TS% numbers as a Knick were .566, .619 and .585 (.619, people!!! With a nearly 30% usage!!!). King made two All Star Games for the Knicks, but sadly, at the end of the 1984-85 season King blew out his ACL in his knee. He missed the entire 1985-86 season and only played 6 games for the Knicks in 1986-87. So Knick fans never got to see what it would have looked like to see one of the best scorers in the NBA in the 1980s play with a dominant big man like Patrick Ewing. The Knicks cut King lose before the 1987-88 season, and King signed with the Washington Bullets, where he eventually revitalized his career, even making the All-Star Game in 1991!
King is particularly known for his back-to-back 50 point games for the Knicks in 1984 and his 60 point game on Christmas Day 1984.
In this three seasons (and six games) with the Knicks, Bernard King produced 27.1 win shares. For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!