Anthony Mason, a 13 year NBA veteran, has died due to complications of congestive heart failure. He spent his career playing for the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. However, as a man that bleeds orange and blue, I’ll always remember him as being a key cog for the Knicks during many of their playoff runs in the early to mid 90’s.
Mase has won an NBA 6th Man award and has been an all star but I’ll always remember him for what he did in the 1994 NBA Finals. He came off the bench for the Knicks but he spent a majority of his time during that series guarding the Rockets’ best player, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. Working mostly off memory, I remember him guarding Hakeem more often than Patrick Ewing did….and he did more than an admirable job. In fact, there is a YouTube video dedicated to the terrific job he did defensively on the Dream in Game 2 of the finals:
Keep in mind that Mase is giving around 5 inches to Hakeem and that Hakeem is arguably the best post player of our generation. Olajuwon probably had the best combination of agility and footwork that I’ve ever seen from a 7 footer. However, Mase holds his own in this video and he did a commendable job in a losing effort during that series. But to me, this exemplifies the type of person that he was and symbolized why I loved the 90’s Knicks too much. He is an underdog in this matchup but because he works so hard and is confident in his abilities, he puts up a great fight. Mase was a guy most people wrote off as not being extremely talented before his NBA career started. However, through sheer force of will, hard work, and belief in himself, he turned himself into one of the best defensive players in the NBA at the time as well as a guy who was good in the post and a good passer for a player of his position.
Anthony Mason died at 48 years old. But in the hearts of every Knicks fan that had seen him play, his never say die attitude will live forever.