Anthony Mason was unafraid. He was a bruiser who would do all the dirty work. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound forward soon became a force with the New York Knicks. He became a scorer and eventually an NBA All-Star. Mason played 13 seasons in the NBA, but his life was tragically cut short when he succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 48.
Anthony Mason’s early NBA career
Anthony Mason didn’t come into the NBA with a lot of hype. He played his college ball at Tennessee State University and wasn’t known for his offensive skills. He was only 6-foot-7 and his lack of size and offensive firepower saw him slip to the third round of the 1988 NBA draft where the Portland Trail Blazers took him with the 53rd overall pick.
Mason’s career didn’t get off to a promising start as the Blazers waived him and then he spent time briefly with the Denver Nuggets and the New Jersey Nets. He also played overseas and in the CBA before hooking on with the New York Knicks for the 1991-92 season. In that season, Mason came off the bench and provided a spark, averaging seven points and seven rebounds per game.
Mason played five seasons with the Knicks and had his best season with the team in his final year. He averaged 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds during the 1995-96 season. He teamed with Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Charles Smith to provide the Knicks with one of the best frontcourts in the league.
Mason traded to the Hornets for Larry Johnson
On July 14, 1996, Anthony Mason was traded with Brad Lohaus to the Charlotte Hornets for former No. 1 draft pick Larry Johnson. In his first season in Charlotte, Mason made quite an impression. He led the league in minutes played and he averaged a career-high 16.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
The following season, Mason again averaged a double-double for the season (12.8 points, 10.2 rebounds). He missed the entire 1998-99 season because of a ruptured bicep. He returned for the 1999-2000 season like he never missed a beat when he averaged 11.6 points and 8.5 rebounds while playing in all 82 games.
On Aug. 1, 2000, Mason was traded to the Miami Heat where he played one season. During that year, however, he made his only NBA All-Star appearance after averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Mason closed out his career by playing two seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The unexpected death of Anthony Mason
Anthony Mason, who, according to the New York Daily News, had put on more than 100 pounds after his playing days were over, suffered a massive heart attack on Feb. 11, 2015. He never recovered from it and died on Feb. 28, 2015.
“Mase came to play every night and was always ready to go to battle with me every time we stepped on the court together,” said former teammate Patrick Ewing. “I will remember him for his strength, determination, and perseverance.”
Charles Oakley, who teamed up with Mason and Ewing to form one heck of a frontcourt, also paid his respects. “Mase was a fighter,” said Oakley. “I just wish he could have had one more round. It’s a real tough time.”