NEW YORK (WFAN) — Nobody embodied the early-90s Knicks better than Anthony Mason. They were physical, tough, old-school.
And they owned New York.
But Mason says he’s been unable to land a job with the team despite an obvious need to get back to what worked 20 years ago, when the Knicks reached the NBA Finals under former coach Pat Riley.
“I would always want to be able to go back to an organization, try to help them turn it around,” Mason said Friday on WFAN’s “Moose & Maggie” show. “Especially when they’re going through what they’re going through now.”
Mason said fellow enforcer Charles Oakley has also offered his services.
“For whatever reason, we’re still not employed there,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
Then there’s Patrick Ewing, who has paid his dues in the NBA as an assistant but still hasn’t landed a head-coaching job. Mason said he’s “very surprised” the Knicks haven’t brought Ewing back in an official capacity.
John Starks, Mason’s teammate on the 1994 team, currently works in the front office as an alumni relations and fan development advisor.
“When you’re around New York City, all you hear is about the ’90s Knicks,” said Mason, who confirmed he once served as a bouncer for old friend LL Cool J. “And just to add some of that into (the current team), you’d think (that) would be something you would do.”
The Knicks are in free-fall at 22-40 just a year after winning the Atlantic Division. The team has been criticized for its lack of heart, hustle and, most of all, defense.
Mason said toughness is all in a club’s “presence” — which starts at the top with the president, general manager and coach and works its way down to the players. He insists the 90s style of play isn’t impossible in today’s NBA, pointing to teams like Chicago and Indiana that hit the court with a physicality not seen in New York in a very long time.
“We imposed our will,” Mason said. “We were going to make it hard on you. We were going to be up in your face the whole game and we wanted you to know that. People dreaded coming into the Garden, and that’s the thing you want to get back to.”
As for the future of Carmelo Anthony, Mason admitted “it’s not looking good” for the Knicks in free agency if the superstar forward plans to prioritize winning a championship over salary.
“I guess you could say it’s a possibility because they seem like they went from good to bad overnight,” Mason said. “But if you were asking the honest question, you would probably tell him, you know, you might have to look elsewhere.”
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