After suffering a massive heart attack earlier in February, former NY Knicks forward Anthony Mason has died early on Feb. 28, a Knicks spokesperson told ESPN.
The 13-year NBA veteran had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and did not make it through.
The Knicks held a moment of silence for Mason before Saturday night’s 103-98 win against the Toronto Raptors and aired a video tribute during the game.
Earlier reports indicated that Mason was “getting better, improving” following multiple heart surgeries.
Mason’s family released a statement Saturday morning, saying that he “fought like a warrior to the very end.”
“We would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt thoughts and strong prayers,” the statement said. “Anthony felt each and every one. He fought like a warrior to the very end. Please keep your prayers and thoughts with us through this very hard time – it is a great loss for us. We ask for our privacy during this time.”
Mason played for six teams but was best remembered for his five-year tenure with the Knicks. Mason’s bruising, physical play epitomized then-coach Pat Riley’s Knicks teams. The 6-foot-7 forward became a fan favorite for his physical play and also drew attention for the creative artwork and messages that he had carved in his hair cuts.
“Anthony Mason exemplified perseverance for all players fighting for their chance in the NBA,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “NBA fans and players around the league admired his tenacity on defense and playmaking on offense.”
Mason played high school basketball in the New York City, attended the Tennessee State University, then basketball minor leagues, before coming into the NBA.
The 6-foot-7 defensive stalwart spent 13 seasons in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, NY Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks.
Mason won the Sixth Man of the Year for the 1994-95 Knicks, coached by Pat Riley. The 1993-94 team lost in the finals to the Houston Rockets.
Mason played in 882 NBA games (started in 559), for New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, NY Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. Mason averaged career high 16.2 ppg, 5.7 apg and 11.4 rpg for Hornets during the 1996-97 season. He was named NBA All-Star in 2001.
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