Former NBA star and Queens product Anthony Mason passed away in 2015. He would have turned 52 today.
With all of the drama that has soiled New York fans on their once-beloved Knicks, The Shadow League reflects on the third anniversary of Anthony Mason’s death.
Mase, a homegrown product from Queens, NY who attended Springfield High School and electrified Madison Square Garden from his point-forward position while becoming a central cog in the Knicks success in the ’90s, died on February 28th, 2015 at the age of 48 from congestive heart failure.
The soulful Mason was beloved by the fans, particularly because of his affinity for the kids, never failing to take the time to sign autographs and chat with the masses.
Scouts Dick McGuire and Fuzzy Levane had plucked him from the U.S.B.L., and Coach Pat Riley was the master motivator, but Mase’s success was in large part to his work ethic and belief in his abilities that he belonged in the NBA. And he sure did.
At the time of his death, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “Anthony Mason exemplified perseverance for all players fighting for their chance in the NBA. NBA fans and players around the league admired his tenacity on defense and playmaking on offense.”
Happy birthday and R.I.P. to Anthony Mason!
Remember when he choked Rodman in a playoff game?
How much suspension this play would get in today’s game? pic.twitter.com/BPOTjIleg0
— OLDSKOOLBBALL (@Oldskoolbball1) December 14, 2018
Mason teamed with Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and John Starks to help the Knicks win the Eastern Conference in 1994 and reach the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games. His bruising 6-foot-7 body, physical play and swiss-army knife versatility on both offense and defense epitomized Pat Riley’s intimidating system.
Some call Mase the first true point-forward, identifying his multi-faceted importance in the Knicks system.
New York fans enjoyed the Knicks success back then with Mason dropping double-double seasons and displaying an unprecedented, diversified skill set for a guy with his size and build that hasn’t been duplicated since.
They made the playoffs every year he wore the uniform from the 1991-92 season to the 1995-96 season, before he moved on to Charlotte and averaged a career-high 16.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Mase was a local cat whose persona and aura on the court represented the concrete jungle he was raised in, but he had a heart of gold and understood the grind. He didn’t have a crystal stair to the league. He had to play overseas, in the park tourneys and in developmental pro leagues before getting his crack at the big time. He rocked designs in his hair anf unky jewels just like the hustlers and walked the streets with trunk jewelry, pushing the most expensive whips and still coming back to the hood to attend events and spread love.
Happy Birthday to the late Anthony Mason!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 14, 2018
When the lights came on at MSG back in the ’90s, every New Yorker felt a deeper connection to the team than just basketball. Mase was royal family, indoctrinated by the streets, society and schools that support the Knicks through thick and thin and once saw the team as a symbol of pride.
Lets remember Anthony Mason and his memorable and positive impact in a 13-year NBA career built on guts, glory and New York City-style hoops.