On This Date: Happy Birthday to some of our fellow former Knicks

July 31st: Happy Birthday to our fellow former Knicks

Henry Akin was born on July 31st 1944. He played one season with the New York Knicks and averaged 3.8 points/game in 50 games. He subsequently was an inaugural member of the Seattle Supersonics franchise in the 1967-68 season. His most memorable moment as a Knick was making his first two buckets over Wilt Chamberlain in his first ever NBA game.

Kostas Papanikolaou was born on July 31st 1990. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Knicks in the 2012 NBA Draft. However, his draft rights went to the Portland Trailblazers in a trade that netted Raymond Felton. He spent parts of 2 seasons with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.

Scott Brooks was born on July 31st 1965. After winning 2 championships with the Houston Rockets, Brooks joined the Knicks for the 1996-97 season. He spent most of the time on the bench and almost got cut when Walt “Clyde” Frazier considered a return to the franchise.1

On This Date: The New York Knicks sign Anthony Mason

July 30th 1991: The New York Knicks sign Anthony Mason

In a somewhat unheralded move at the time, the New York Knicks officially signed Anthony Mason to an NBA contract. Mason, later known simply as the original “Mase,” spent the summer of 1991 on the Knicks summer league roster. A native of Queens, Mase spent his first few post-collegiate years overseas in Turkey and Venezuela. In between those stints, he spent parts of 2 seasons with the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, and the Tulsa Fast Breakers of the Continental Basketball Association.

Before joining the Knicks, Mase was heralded for his talents in the frontcourt combined with a deft passing ability unseen in many big men. New Knicks coach Pat Riley inserted Mase into the 2nd unit where he helped cement the Knicks already strong frontcourt presence. His combination of toughness on both ends of the floor helped the Knicks reach the playoffs, including a finals run in 1994.

After Riley left, coach Don Nelson inserted Mase into the starting lineup. As a starter, Mase averaged career highs in all categories, with 14.6 points/game, 9.3 rebounds/game, and 4.4 assists/game. The latter showcased Mase’s skills as a point forward. It was a role that eventually became a part of the positionless basketball, highlighted by Draymond Green amongst others. Unfortunately, differences in coaching philosophies cut Nelson’s tenure short after less than 1 season with the Knicks.

After the 1996 season, a combination of off-court issues and a quest for more offensive firepower led the Knicks to trade Mase to the Charlotte Hornets for Larry Johnson. Mase harbored tensions towards the Knicks organization due to the trade. Mase displayed his point forward skills during his tenure with the Hornets and also earned an All-Star berth in 2001 with the Miami Heat after reuniting with Riley.

Mase eventually reconciled with the Knicks and was often seen courtside at games or chatting with several of the Knicks players during the years. Sadly, Mase passed away in 2015 due to congestive heart failure at the age of 48.

On This Date: Sonny Hertzberg’s Birthday

July 29th 1922: Sonny Hertzberg was born

Sidney “Sonny” Hertzberg was born on this date in 1922. A Brookyln native, Hertzberg played college basketball with future Knick coach Red Holzman at the City College of New York. Sonny was part of the inaugural Knicks team in the 1946-47 season. He was the team captain and leading scorer with 8.7 points/game.

Sonny later joined the Washington Capitols, playing for future Celtics legend Red Auerbach. Similaryl, Hertzberg joined the Celtics and later retired in 1953.

After his basketball career, Sonny returned to the Knicks to become a scout and assistant coach. He spent 2 seasons on WPIX announcing Knicks games as a color commentator.

After his short broadcasting stint, Sonny pivoted into investment management. He rose up to the managing director title of the now defunct Bear Stearns. He retired from his position in 2003 before passing away in 2005 due to heart failure.

On This Date: Bill Bradley’s Birthday

July 28th 1943: Bill Bradley was born

New York Knicks great Bill Bradley was born on July 28th 1943. After a touted collegiate career at Princeton, Bradley spent 6 months in the Air Force before joining the New York Knicks. Bradley spent his entire NBA career with the Knicks and won 2 championships along the way. The Knicks eventually retired his number.

After retirement, Bradley embarked on a successful political career. He spent 18 years in the US Senate representing the state of New Jersey.

On This Date: Knicks hire Larry Brown

July 27th 2005: The New York Knicks hire Larry Brown

In one of the more surprising, yet unsurprising heists in team history, the New York Knicks hired Larry Brown as the next head coach. Brown took the Detroit Pistons to two straight NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2004. Brown always dreamed to coach the Knicks and was allegedly lobbying for the position during the NBA Finals. Coming off a 33-49 season, Isiah Thomas and the Knicks management made a bold splash in offering Brown a 5 year contract worth $50 million.

The marriage was doomed from the start. Expectations to make the playoffs shattered early in the season. Brown publicly complained about his roster and retaliated with his multitude of starting lineups. The tensions between Brown, the players, and the front office became public very early. Brown simply sabotaged the season.

While many Larry Brown teams bottom out in their first season together, the Knicks presented a different scenario. Not only did the team bottom out, but did so in a way that simply embarrassed the franchise, fans, and the league. The Knicks bottomed out in a season where they did not have their own lottery pick. The season was an abject disaster.

Due to the nightmare of a season, the Knicks fired Brown after only one season. Brown filed a grievance against the Knicks, but ultimately settled for $28.5 million of the $50 million owed to him in total. To be quite honest, he did not deserve one penny more than the $10 million he earned during his lone season.

On This Date: Amare Stoudemire retires as a Knick

July 26th 2016: Amare Stoudemire retires a New York Knick

Amare Stoudemire officially signed a one-day contract with the New York Knicks to announce his retirement from the NBA. The Knicks originally signed Amare to a 5 year contract worth $100 million in 2010. He was the first superstar to join the Knicks in free agency ever.

Amare had a near-MVP start to his Knicks career. The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony mid-season allowed the Knicks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, injuries prevented the Knicks from realizing Amare’s true potential.

A nagging back injury limited Amare’s explosiveness during the lockout season. Despite making the playoffs once again, Stoudemire started showing signs of decline as a player. Knee injuries limited Stoudemire to 29 games during the 54 win campaign.

Stat returned to play 65 games during the 2013-14 season. While he showed some signs of his old self, he largely accepted a supporting role on the team, including coming off the bench. He averaged a career low 11.9 points/game.2

The 2014-15 season was a disaster for the Knicks. The team decided to buyout the remainder of Amare’s contract to allow him to join a playoff contender. He joined the Mavericks for the remainder of the season. His final season, 2015-16, came with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

On This Date: Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

July 25th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

The New York Knicks continued to add more defensive oriented pieces to the roster by signing Ronnie Brewer to a contract. Brewer played the previous 2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and was part of coach Tom Thibodeau’s bench mob. At 6’7 with a long wingspan, the Knicks expected Brewer to provide a defensive identity off the bench.

Brewer started the season as the team’s starting small forward due to Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury. Ultimately, Iman Shumpert’s return from a torn ACL pushed Brewer out of the rotation. As the Knicks sought to shore up their frontcourt depth, the team traded Brewer mid-season to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future 2nd round pick. The team used the spot to sign Kenyon Martin.