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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 to ESPN that Mason died early Saturday morning. The 13-year NBA veteran had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier this month.
"First I want to thank all those who offered prayers and well-wishes for my Father, our family really appreciates it," his son, Anthony Mason Jr., said Saturday. "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 a severe heart issue. 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."

Brad Mangin/NBAE/Getty ImagesAnthony Mason played parts of 13 seasons in the NBA and was a key member of the 1993-94 Knicks team that reached the NBA Finals.

Mason's other son Antoine, a senior basketball player at Auburn, had said earlier this week that his father was "getting better" following multiple heart surgeries.
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.
Mason teamed with Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and John Starks to help the Knicks win the Eastern Conference in 1994 and reach the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games.
"My heart is heavy after learning that we lost Anthony Mason last night," Ewing said in a statement. "We were teammates on the Knicks for five great seasons. Mase came to play every night and was always ready to go to battle with me every time we stepped on the court together.
"I will remember him for his strength, determination and perseverance. My thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace."
Mason won the NBA's Sixth Man Award in 1994-95 as a member of the Knicks. He also played with the Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat following his stint with the Knicks.
"Anthony was a multifaceted individual," his longtime agent Don Cronson told's Ian O'Connor. "There were many aspects to his personality, and some that people weren't aware of. In the best sense of the term he was a momma's boy. From the day I met him he was always thinking of his mom and taking care of her. As rough and tough as he was, Anthony was also a doting father, and I saw that many times.
"Anthony willed himself into the NBA, and very few players can do that. Any NBA team could've had him for a nickel, and he turned out to be the perfect Pat Riley player. I think Pat saw a lot of himself in Anthony, and really they were the same guy. That's why they butted heads as often as they did. They were both blue-collar guys and fighters. Anthony told me, 'Pat Riley was the one who gave me my chance. He's the one who saw something in me when nobody else did.'"
Mason was reunited with Riley later in his career while playing for Miami, where he was named to his one and only All-Star team in 2001.
Mason's career is a story of perseverance.
After playing high school basketball at Springfield Gardens in Queens and college basketball at Tennessee State University, Mason was selected in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, who waived him shortly thereafter.
Mason then played in Turkey and Venezuela before joining the then-New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets for short stints. He also played in the USBL and CBA.
Mason found a permanent home with the Knicks in 1991 after receiving an invite to play on the organization's summer league team.
Riley appreciated Mason's intense, physical approach and kept him on the roster, beginning a run that would end with Mason leaving an indelible mark on the Knicks organization and its fan base.

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Comment by AfricanGoddess on February 28, 2015 at 6:46pm

May his journey to the Ancestral realm be pain free...

Comment by Mr Israel on February 28, 2015 at 4:35pm
JAH rest his soul. One of my favorite Knicks back when the Knicks REALLY represented NYC. May the Most High JAH bless his family.
Comment by Rahsaana on February 28, 2015 at 4:28pm
Sad news..he was so young..S.I.P..
Comment by Paul Eliacin on February 28, 2015 at 4:24pm

May God bless your soul my brother. That's why people should always get right with God. Because you never know.

Comment by Dave on February 28, 2015 at 4:02pm
Damn. 48 is far to young. RIP my brother.
Comment by GospelPan on February 28, 2015 at 3:48pm

We have lost a true warrior, I will never forget the battles he had while wearing a Knick jersey.  May he rest in peace, my prayers go out to his family.

Comment by navi dread on February 28, 2015 at 2:40pm

RIP family  U will always be best kept secret! Yo Puff navidread needs a classic 90's unique design haircut Guy Brewer salute 

Comment by vaughn mitchell on February 28, 2015 at 1:44pm

R.I.P. Met him a couple of times, when he came to my job, and in the clubs in Manhattan when he was a NY Knick.

Comment by mr1stroke on February 28, 2015 at 1:12pm

wow that was my favorite player from the Nicks growing up, i called him the Pitbull, never back down, every team knows not to mess with him, he would beat you on the court and off the court, yes he was one of NY best, sleep well my friend, those of us who appreciates your contribution to the game will remember you, suffer no more

Comment by Jahbass on February 28, 2015 at 12:46pm
R.I.P Anthony Mason you were always fun to watch,you made the N.Y. Knicks a significant team,and I was happy to have met you.

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