If you feel like Carmelo Anthony has barely left the court this season, you’re not alone. Melo’s 38.8 minutes per game lead the league, and given New York’s playoff situation, things aren’t going to get any easier on him over the next six games. Still, he probably wishes that he could be on the floor as much as Anthony Mason was back in 1996.
Mason was the last member of the Knicks to lead the league in minutes played per game. It came during the 1995-96 season when he was on the floor for an astounding 42.2 minutes each night. Mase made the feat even more significant by playing in all 82 games. Only twice did he play under 35 minutes, and he even added in a couple of 50-minute performances too. Despite being listed at 250 pounds, few were better conditioned than Mason, and no one had cooler hair.
At the time, Mason was defending his Sixth Man of the Year Award. Despite posting 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, the postseason honor was given to Chicago’s Toni Kukoc, who played a measly 26.0 minutes per night. Kukoc did manage to drop in 13.1 points per night, but it’s clear that the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year Award was based off of per 36 minute averages.
If Melo is going to leave this summer, at least New York can say that they squeezed every last drop out of him. The next closest Knick, J.R. Smith, plays more than six less minutes than Anthony and ranks 53rd in the league. The common perception is that Melo is doing everything by himself, and if you judge it by time on the floor, that isn’t far from true. Here’s to 48 minutes per night from Carmelo until the Knicks are in the playoffs!