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All Time New York Knicks Hair-story

A definitive account of the greatest hair cuts in New York Knicks history

1994 NBA Finals Game 1: New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

If the title of this article intrigued you, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life, you walked into a barbershop with a picture of your favorite Knick, telling the barber, “I want this look.” If you grew up idolizing the Knicks of the ‘90s, much like myself, that picture was likely of Anthony Mason.

Every individual in this world possesses a unique personality and sense of style, with some being more extravagant and flamboyant than others. The first way individuals often choose to showcase their distinct style is through their hairstyle. NBA players are no exception in this regard, but they have a global stage to display it, thanks in large part to social media. Unlike athletes in other sports, basketball players can express their individual style more prominently. There are no sleeves to cover up tattoos, and there are no helmets to hide either a good or bad haircut.

Knicks legend Walt Frazier embodied a style that was unprecedented in the NBA during the ‘70s. He was the epitome of cool both on and off the court, a status he still maintains. Who else in sports history earned their nickname due to their choice to wear a Fedora? Frazier was trendsetter in the ‘70s, paving the way for other players to express their unique styles, often through their haircuts.

Throughout time, hairstyles have always been associated within different eras, and the NBA is no exception. The 1970’s and 80’s saw long hair get longer. From the late 1980’s and into the early 90’s high top fades grew taller for some, while shaved heads and buzz cuts replaced Jheri curls and mullets for others. By the mid to late ‘90s, it wasn’t about having the most popular haircut, but rather having the most unique and individualistic one.

Over the years, the Knicks have certainly had their fair share of unique characters and personalities. From Clyde, to Kenny Walker, to Iman Shumpert, and of course, Anthony Mason, there have been many trendsetters who have worn the blue and orange. But who truly deserves the crown for their distinctive crown?


While some teams are represented in this category by a legendary player with an even more legendary afro, the Knicks lack such representation in this category. Iconic figures like Dr. J, Ben Wallace, Wes Unseld, and Artis Gilmore stand out not only for their legendary skills but also for their iconic afros. The Detroit Pistons even celebrated Ben Wallace’s distinctive hairstyle with a giveaway promo featuring a bobblehead adorned with faux hair. Except for Big Ben, most of the prominent afros in the NBA were sported during the 1970s. It wasn’t until 2021, when Jericho Sims joined the team last year, that the Knicks finally made this list. Although it took them some time to get on the all time afro list, the Knicks now have two of the best afro’s in the league this season in Sims, and Miles McBride.

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

High-top / flat top fade: High-top fades were as emblematic of the NBA during the 1980s and 1990s as braids are in today’s NBA. While many present-day Knicks fans might immediately think of Patrick Ewing when discussing high tops, it’s essential to note that Kenny “Sky” Walker rocked this distinctive hairstyle years before Ewing. As Kid ‘n Play rose to prominence in the late ‘80s, Walker was just starting his NBA career with the Knicks. Even today, a spirited debate can be sparked about who sported the more impressive flat top between Kid and Walker. Kid’s was undeniably taller, but Walker’s was notably crisper, flatter, and featured two precisely shaved parts on the left side. Walker famously showcased his iconic high-top fade during the 1989 Slam Dunk contest, where he claimed first place honors. It remains one of the most iconic high tops in NBA history. Over the following decade, the high-top or flat top fade emerged as the signature hairstyle for numerous other Knicks players, among them Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, and Charles Smith. However, as high tops gradually evolved into flat tops and, eventually, more understated mini-fros during the late ‘90s, this iconic style began to wane in popularity. It wasn’t until 2012, nearly 15 years after it was last spotted on a Knicks player, that Iman Shumpert breathed new life into this distinctive look.

Throughout his NBA career, Shumpert carved out a significant presence both on and off the court, equally renowned for his style as for his basketball skills. Nearly 25 years since Kenny Walker made his Knicks debut and Kid ‘n Play released their first album, Shump debuted his sky-high flat top at the Knicks 2012 media day. Shump even went as far as shaving the Adidas logo in the back of his fade, an absolute no-no per item 5 of Section H of the NBA rulebook. While no official measurement was ever recorded, Shump’s high-top fade appears to hold the record for the highest hair in NBA history.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Cornrows: Latrell Sprewell was the first player in Knicks history to sport cornrows in 1998. These distinctive patterns, popularized by Allen Iverson in 1997, were still relatively novel in the NBA at the time. Sprewell was just the second player to appear in an NBA game with them as a member of the Golden State Warriors in late 1997 prior to his incident with P.J. Carlesimo.

Though there has been slew of Knicks who have worn cornrows since Spree, including Kurt Thomas, Michael Beasley, Julius Randle, and Trey Burke, there hasn’t been a Knick since Anthony Mason to show his love for New York through his hair until Josh Hart did so by the way of his braids during last year’s playoffs.

Hart, who is not a native New Yorker and wasn’t acquired by the Knicks until this past February, chose to represent his new hometown during the first round of the playoffs with the New York Yankees iconic “NY” logo braided into hair. During the second round against the Heat, Hart took it one step further by having his hair braided to read the even more iconic “I ❤️NY” slogan, utilizing the Yankees logo for yet a second time to make up for the NY portion.

Latrell Sprewell #8...

Anthony Mason- “I got my hair cut correct like Anthony Mason, then I ride the IRT right up to Penn Station.” – The Beastie Boys.

Not a single Knicks fan would dispute that Anthony Mason sported the most iconic and memorable hairstyles in the history of the team. The ever-changing slogans carved into Mase’s head were done by Freddy Avila, owner of Cutty’s in Jamaica, Queens. The unique etchings usually paid tribute to the Knicks, the city of New York, or held personal significance to Mase. These cuts would often grace the front and back pages of newspapers, magazine articles, and whenever the MSG cameraman managed to capture a glimpse, they became talking points for the commentators.

New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

I had the privilege of getting to know Mason prior to his untimely passing. I once asked him which of his cuts was his favorite of all time. He laughed as he simply responded, “I don’t know, I had too many”. While no publication or media outlet has ever chronicled a real list of the slogans etched into Mason’s head over the years, we felt that it was our responsibility at P&T to provide Knicks fans with the most complete list that they’ve always been searching for:

BACK TO D, IN GOD’S HANDS, MASE, WE GOT FAITH, BACK TO GOD, ONLY 1 GOD, 14, NY, the Knicks logo with the #14 inside of the ball, KNICKS (over city skyline), NEW YORK, The Statue of Liberty, DOGG POUND, I’M READY, NY BACK ON TRACK, HOME SWEET HOME, ONE HAND, IT’S ALL GOOD, POINT GOD

Worst Haircut in Knicks History: When J.R. Smith arrived in New York fresh off his jet from China, he made his Knicks debut on national television with one of the worst cuts in team and league history. Part flat top, part gumby cut, and another part equaling a bad decision, left everyone wondering just what in the world JR asked his barber to do? It wasn’t so much the cut itself as it was the thick and uneven shaved part that started at the right corner of his crown and wrapped around the top of his head stopping just short of the left corner.

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks

Honorable Mention: With over 600 players to have put on a Knicks uniform each bringing their own distinct sense of style, there are some whose hairstyles stand out more memorable than others. This article would be incomplete without acknowledging all the 90’s Knicks who shaved their heads during the playoffs as a symbol of team unity. It would be incomplete if it didn’t also mention the iconic dreadlocks sported by Derrick Rose and Derrick Williams, as well as the striking box braids of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. And of course, we can’t forget to pay homage to Carrot Top, I mean Ron Baker’s, mop top.


Which Knick Holds The Most Iconic Hairstyle In Team History?

  • 5%
    Walt Frazier
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Kenny Walker
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Iman Shumpert
    (1 vote)
  • 62%
    Anthony Mason
    (49 votes)
  • 7%
    Latrell Sprewell
    (6 votes)
  • 15%
    Patrick Ewing
    (12 votes)
  • 5%
    Jericho Sims
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Ron Baker
    (1 vote)
79 votes total Vote Now