New York Knicks: The Top 5 Small Forwards in Team History

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIOctober 7, 2012

New York Knicks: The Top 5 Small Forwards in Team History

0 of 5

    With Carmelo Anthony settling into his role as the Knicks' undisputed leader these last couple of years, he's establishing himself as one of the franchise's all-time greatest small forwards.

    That said, the Knicks have had plenty worthy small forwards walk through the MSG doors since their inception in 1946.

    Various scorers, defenders and even politicians have plied their trade for the Knicks at the three, leaving Melo with a lot of competition to wade through in order to eventually get to the top of the pile.

5. Larry Johnson

1 of 5

    Larry Johnson's four-point play in 1999 was one of the greatest plays in Knicks playoff history, and it solidified his place amongst the team's all-time small forwards.

    Though LJ spent his better years as a Charlotte Hornet, he was still a key player in the Knicks' Finals run of 1999 and the teams of the late 90s.

    Johnson was a physical force with surprisingly good shooting form and an emotional leader of an underdog Knicks team.

    His importance to the franchise was felt last earlier this year, when he returned to the team as a basketball and business operations representative.

4. Anthony Mason

2 of 5

    A tough, hard-nosed player, Anthony Mason embodied what the 90s New York Knicks were all about.

    Mason put his all into the blue and orange and, as evidenced by his hairstyle choices at the time, was passionate about representing New York City.

    He may not have been the most talented player—especially on offense—but he ranked high in the league in terms of effort and intensity.

    It took a lot of that said effort for Mason to go from a third-round pick to a Sixth Man of the Year winner in 1995, but he managed to get it done.

    Mason also made an All-Star appearance in 2001 and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 1997.

3. Carmelo Anthony

3 of 5

    It feels strange to put a player so high on this list after only one-and-a-half seasons, but frankly, Carmelo Anthony is that good.

    As much as he's criticised, Anthony is still one of the top 15 or so players in the NBA right now and has been the Knicks' best player since he got here.

    Melo has one of the more developed and diverse offensive games the league has ever seen, and at times, is simply unstoppable.

    His clutch play is something to behold to, with a great example of this being his performance in an overtime thriller against the Chicago Bulls last season. 

    So long as he plays out his contract, Melo should remain in the top three of this list when it's all said and done.

    In order for him to get to the top, though—and that's a genuine possibility—he'll need to take his team at the very least to the conference finals.

    He has the talent, but it's time to make good on that and prove the Knicks' brass right for signing him in the biggest trade in team history.

2. Bill Bradley

4 of 5

    Having attended both Princeton and Oxford University in England, Bill Bradley's level of education was unheard of for a professional basketball player.

    That didn't stop him from being great, though, as he was one of the key cogs on the Knicks' championship-winning teams of 1970 and 1973.

    Taken with a "territorial pick" in the 1965 draft—that allowed teams to get their hands on players who attended colleges within 50 miles of their location—Bradley turned out to be an absolute steal for the Knicks.

    He spent his entire NBA career in New York, resulting in a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his number being hung from the Madison Square Garden rafters.

    Now a politician, Knicks fans will recall Bradley playing a big role as a "glue guy" on those 70s teams, though that's not to say he wasn't a talented player.

    When needed, Bradley could do most anything asked of him on either side of the floor, thanks to a high basketball IQ.

1. Bernard King

5 of 5

    We've had Carmelo Anthony on this list, but now it's time for the player he idolised growing up in Baltimore and New York.

    It's clear to see where Melo modeled his offensive game from, as Bernard King was the original big-time scorer at MSG.

    King had quickness, strength, a fantastic jump shot and essentially all that was needed to put the ball in the basket against any opponent.

    In 1984, he scored 50 points on back-to-back nights and followed that up later that year with a 60-point performance on Christmas Day.

    Unfortunately, King's career was marred by injury, which was a real shame because he could have gone down as one of the game's greatest.

    Instead, King is now without a place in the Hall of Fame and has yet to have his number retired by the Knicks.

    He hasn't needed those things to be remembered, though, as he instantly comes to mind when thinking of the Knicks' great scorers of the past.