Retired NBA forward Anthony Mason passed away Saturday at the age of 48.
ESPN.com reported the news:
Anthony Mason, a longtime NBA player who helped the New York Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals, has died at the age of 48.
A Knicks spokesperson confirmed Mason's death to ESPN. The 13-year NBA veteran had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier this month.
Mason's son, Anthony Jr., released a statement:
First, I want to thank all those who offered prayers and well-wishes for my Father, our family really appreciated it. Overnight, New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother...but more than anything, our father, Anthony Mason. As you all would expect, our father—Big Mase—put up an incredible fight dealing with severe heart issues. I'm wishing this was something else I was writing, but Pops, we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us.
I ask at this time that you respect our family's privacy with regard to questions as our family takes the time to mourn.
Longtime NBA media personality Peter Vecsey initially reported Mason's condition Feb. 11:
Sickened 2 report, ex-Knick Anthony Mason fighting 4 life. Congestive heart failure, heart attack, 4 surgeries, last one 9 hrs. Sons by side— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 11, 2015
Mason started his pro basketball career overseas in 1988 after being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers 53rd overall out of Tennessee State, and he also played in the Continental Basketball Association. He eventually established stateside staying power as a 13-year NBA veteran.
NBA.com provided a statement from Pat Riley:
News like this is not only sad, but it’s tragic. Anthony Mason was a very young man with a great family and friends. To lose him so quickly during his journey, especially to those of us that knew him, hurts. We had a great season in Miami experiencing Anthony as an All-Star with the HEAT, and I also had the privilege of coaching him for four years in New York, where he helped take us to the brink of a championship. There were so many great moments that we shared that I will never forget. Our prayers and sympathies are with his family. May god bless his soul.
Inside Hoops provided comments from Phil Jackson:
"As a competitor, there was none fiercer than Anthony Mason." - Phil Jackson today— InsideHoops.com NBA (@InsideHoops) February 28, 2015
For much of his prime, Mason played for the New York Knicks ('91-'92 to '95-'96) and Charlotte Hornets ('96-'97 to '99-'00).
Sal Licata of SNY TV discussed how Mason made his presence felt in the Big Apple:
Geez...Horrible news about Anthony Mason. He embodied everything there was to being a '90s Knick. Gave us his heart every night on the floor— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) February 11, 2015
Former teammate Charles Oakley responded to the news as well:
MY MAN MY MAN A. MASON R.I.P, WE GONNA MISS U BROTHER— Charles Oakley (@CharlesOakley34) February 28, 2015
Fans in New York and Charlotte came to witness the stocky Mason's physical, impassioned brand of basketball, and he was a key contributor in helping the Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals.
During Mason's only season with the Miami Heat in 2000-2001, he was named an All-Star. That year, he posted averages of 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest.
In total, he played for six different NBA franchises—Nets, Nuggets, Knicks, Hornets, Heat, Bucks—before retiring after the 2002-2003 season with Milwaukee.