This past Saturday, February 28, former Knicks great and power forward Anthony Mason passed away at the age of 48 due to heart problems. The man knows to Knicks fans as “Mase” was a big presence in the 1990’s Knicks dynasty. A moment of silence was held in honor of Mason before the Knicks Vs Raptors gave that evening.
Head coach Derek Fisher started his pregame press conference prior to Saturday night’s game saying “masons family is in the teams thought and prayers”. He also said the Knicks are dedicating the season in his memory.
Mason played 14 years in the NBA, 5 with the New York Knicks. He was known as tough grinding defender who helped the Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals. Even though the Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets in 7 games, Mason was key factor in helping the team get there.
Mason was born in Miami, Florida went to high school in Queens, and attended college at Tennessee State. He was a 3rd round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1988 NBA Draft. He was cut prior to the season and spent some time overseas plating professional basketball. He had brief stints with the Nets and Nuggets, but the Knicks came calling in 1991. Under new head coach Pat Riley, Mason developed into one of the league’s premier power forwards.
Knicks Vice President of basketball operations released a statement prior to Saturday’s game. As a competitor, there was none fiercer than Anthony Mason. Standing on the opposite end of the playing field, coaching in those great Chicago/New York battles, No. 14 in the Orange and Blue always stood out. On behalf of the entire Knickerbocker community, our condolences go out to his family. Rest in peace, Mase.”
He was the league’s sixth man of the year in 1995, the prior season the Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals. Mason was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 and helped elevate the franchise to one of the league’s best. His first season with the Hornets was the best in his NBA career. He recorded career-highs in minutes played (43.1), points (16.2), rebounds (11.4) and assists (5.7) and also 4 triple-doubles (the first in his career). He missed the entire 1998-'99 season due to a ruptured biceps injury, then averaged 11.6 points and 8.5 rebounds the following one.
Mason was traded to the Miami Heat in 2000 and made the All-Star team that season, again coached by pat Riley. Mason would respond by finishing second on the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game and would also average 9.6 rebounds. He signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2001-02 season. In Mason's first season with the Bucks, the team stumbled to a 41-41 record (11 games worse than the previous season) and missed the playoffs altogether. Mason's numbers went down as well: 9.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg. Nonetheless Milwaukee stuck with Mason for another year, waiving him after the 2002-2003 seasons. Mason announced his retirement shortly after.
Knicks president released a statement saying “For five seasons, Anthony Mason proudly donned a Knicks uniform like no other of his era. His New York City roots, his passion for the City game, his desire to win and his tenacity for defense made him a fan-favorite across the five boroughs, and beyond for every Knickerbocker. All of us here at the New York Knicks will remember Mase and cherish his legacy.”