Former NBA player Anthony Mason died Saturday morning after suffering a massive heart attack earlier this month.
He was 48.
Mason was in critical condition after undergoing four surgeries brought on by congestive heart failure.
One of his sons, Anthony Jr., released a statement on behalf of the family:
Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother… but more than anything our father, Anthony Mason,” the statement said. “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.’
Most notably of the Knicks, his rugged style of play symbolized the toughness those 1990s New York teams were known for. Mason teamed with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley to help give the Knicks one of the most physically imposing frontcourts in NBA history. Mason’s 1993-94 Knicks made the NBA Finals, but fell to the Houston Rockets in 7 games.
Mason was born in Miami, but moved to New York and attended Springfield Gardens High School in Queens, a short trip to Manhattan and Madison Square Garden.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mason Died Saturday Morning
The New York Daily News reported Mason’s death Saturday.
At 6-foot-7, Mason was listed at 250 pounds during his playing career, but was up to 350 at the time of his heart attack, which actually occurred at the hospital while he was there for a test.
Former New York Post writer Peter Vecsey tweeted after Mason’s heart attack:
Mason is survived by his mother Mary and his 2 sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine. Latifa Whitlock is the mother of Mason’s sons.
Antoine said earlier this week that his father was “getting better.”
2. Mason Suffered a Massive Heart Attack on February 11
Mason suffered a massive heart attack on February 11.
He underwent four surgeries, including one nine-hour procedure.
Vecsey first broke the news of Mason’s heart attack on Twitter:
Mason had been dealing with a heart issue for some time.
3. Mason Played 13 NBA Seasons
Mason played 13 NBA seasons with 6 teams, but is arguably remembered most for his time with the Knicks.
He played 5 seasons in New York, from 1991 to 1996, and personified the team’s toughness of those times.
Mason also played with New Jersey, Denver, Charlotte, Miami and Milwaukee. He was drafted the Portland Trail Blazers in the 3rd round (53rd overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft out of Tennessee State.
He retired after the 2002-03 season, which he spent with the Bucks.
Mason had career averages of 10.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
He was an All-Star in 2001 and the Sixth Man of the Year for the 1994-95 season.
Mason also played professionally in Turkey, Venezuela, the Continental Basketball Association and the United States Basketball League.
4. Mason’s Sons Were By His Side After the Heart Attack
Mason’s sons were by his side Wednesday at the hospital.
Both followed in their father’s footsteps when it came to skills on the basketball court.
Anthony Jr. played in college at St. John’s, finishing in 2009-10. He had a tryout with the Miami Heat, but eventually played with the Sioux Force Skyforce of the D-League and Cholet Basket, a professional club in France.
Antoine transferred to Auburn from Niagara, where he led the team in scoring as a redshirt sophomore. Last season, he was the nation’s 2nd-leading scorer at 25.6 points per game, behind only Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
The 6-foot-1 guard averages 15.1 ppg for Auburn this season. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the team.
He told auburntigers.com:
The cool thing is in certain games, if I mess up or do something, I can picture him with his facial expression, and I start laughing and get into a comfort zone. We have like a deep connection. He doesn’t have to be here for me to know he’s watching me.
Antoine flew to New York Thursday to be with his father.
Mason was a frequent visitor to Auburn Arena to watch Antoine and the Tigers play.
5. Mason Remained Close With The Knicks After Retirement
After his retirement from the game, Mason was often seen at Knicks games and practices.
It was believed he was hoping to land a full-time job with the team.
Back in 2011, Mason took a job in life insurance with the Hotaling Group, a firm based in Manhattan. He was in the division that helps provide coverage to several high-level amateur prospects, protecting their future earnings. While he made over $40 million in his NBA career, Mason took the job because he had his own money and tax issues and wanted to help others not make the same mistakes.
In February of last year, Mason and former Knicks teammate John Starks were 2 of the investors of the Harlem location of Custom Fuel Pizza, a chain which started in Washington, D.C.