Best Season as a Knick: 1995-96- 14.6 PPG, 9.3 Rebounds, 4.4 Assists, .563 FG%
Who can ever forget Anthony Mason? Whether it was the design on his head or badass style of play, Mason was truly a MSG favorite. His play symbolized the Knicks of the 90s. His toughness fit in perfectly with the style of play Pat Riley wanted from the team. When Mason was on the court, everyone knew the Knicks were a team that was going to distribute punishment.
When looking at him, you felt intimidated. The guy could have easily been making tackles on Sundays in the NFL. He was built like a truck and very athletic for his size. He was only 6’7, so he usually guarded guys much taller, but at 250 pounds he was able to muscle them up. And speaking of muscle, he was chiseled from head to toe.
I don’t want to say he lacked talent because he was talented, but he did it in interesting ways. His greatest talent was probably his ability to handle the basketball for a big man. He was one of the first point-forward type players in the league. When Don Nelson coached the Knicks, he actually had him at the point much of the time.
His offensive game was average. In actuality he lacked an offensive game. He only had two seasons with the Knicks where he averaged over double digits in points, He did develop a low post game, but if you asked him to take a shot more than 10 feet from the basket, there was no chance it was going in. He might have had the ugliest jump shot you will ever see. Who can ever forget the one handed foul shot?
What hurts Mason most for this list is he did not play long enough with the Knicks. Additionally, his best seasons came after he was traded.
Mason was the centerpiece of the big trade for Larry Johnson after the 95-96 season. If you look at both of their careers after the trade, many would say Mason’s was better. I disagree. LJ was not the same player he was with the Hornets when he came to the Knicks, but he was a better fit for what the Knicks wanted at that time. The Knicks were looking for a better offensive player and no one can argue that LJ’s offensive game was much better than Mason’s.
Even though I liked what Mason brought to the team, trading for LJ was a move the Knicks needed to make. LJ’s true value was more in the post season where he would always raise his level of play. The Knicks also beat the Hornets in the 1997-playoff series after the trade was made. The Knicks dominated the series, in a 3 game sweep.
By Rob Bonanni