Anthony Mason, a bruising power forward who personified the gritty Knicks of the mid-’90s, died early Saturday morning, a source confirmed to the Daily News. He had suffered a massive heart attack earlier in the month.
Mason played 13 seasons in the NBA with six teams but is best remembered for his days with the Knicks. After playing abroad and in both the CBA and USBL, Mason had brief stints with the Nets and Denver before being signed by Pat Riley, who admired his rugged style and his playmaking ability. Along with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, he helped give the Knicks of the early ’90s one of the most physically imposing front lines in NBA history.
Mason and John Starks were both classic examples of self-made players; they both went undrafted yet found a home in New York under Riley while emerging as key players on a Knicks team that reached the NBA Finals in 1994. The following season, Mason was named Sixth Man of the Year.
Mason, however, often complained about his role in the offense and felt that the Knicks were relying too heavily on Ewing.
After losing to the Bulls in the second round in 1996, the Knicks shipped Mason to Charlotte in a deal for Larry Johnson.
Mason eventually landed in Milwaukee, with whom he made his only All-Star Game in 2001, and then was briefly reunited with Riley in Miami.
After retirement, Mason, who attended Springfield Gardens High in Queens, would often be seen at Knick games and practices.
He remained close to a handful of employees in the organization and was hoping to land a full-time job with the club.
Mason’s oldest son, Anthony Jr., played for St. John’s while his other son, Antoine, plays at Auburn after transferring from Niagara.
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