Anthony Mason, a former NBA forward who first played with the New Jersey Nets and reached his prime with the New York Knicks, passed away early Saturday morning, according to various reports. He was 48. Mason had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier in the month.
After the Trail Blazers drafted and subsequently waived Mason, the Nets gave him his first shot in the NBA. He played in 21 games for the Nets and was released before the start of the 1990-91 season. Two years later, Mason joined the Knicks, where he flourished in five seasons as a fan favorite, winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1994-1995.
Mason played for the Nets, Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks in his 13-year career, earning his lone All-Star bid in 2000-2001 with the Heat. Mason also participated in Deron Williams’s Celebrity Dodge Barrage in the past two years in New York.
From the ESPN report:
“Anthony was a multifaceted individual,” his longtime agent Don Cronson told ESPN.com’s Ian O’Connor. “There were many aspects to his personality, and some that people weren’t aware of. In the best sense of the term he was a momma’s boy. From the day I met him he was always thinking of his mom and taking care of her. As rough and tough as he was, Anthony was also a doting father, and I saw that many times.
“Anthony willed himself into the NBA, and very few players can do that. Any NBA team could’ve had him for a nickel, and he turned out to be the perfect Pat Riley player. I think Pat saw a lot of himself in Anthony, and really they were the same guy. That’s why they butted heads as often as they did. They were both blue-collar guys and fighters. Anthony told me, ‘Pat Riley was the one who gave me my chance. He’s the one who saw something in me when nobody else did.'”