– A tribute by a Die Hard Knick fan
The 90’s was a great decade for Knick fans, especially myself. We never got a championship but it was a given that whenever you tuned in to a game or went to a game, you got exciting basketball from the Knicks. The Knicks of the 90’s embodied what New York was about; fearlessness, the grit, the grind and toughness. They were in your face and challenged your manhood. With them they were either winning the game or winning the fight. It didn’t matter. It was the big fella, Pat Ewing, holding down the middle with the scrappy hothead John Starks and/or Derek Harper and Doc Rivers in the backcourt. Ewing had his henchmen holding down the frontcourt. You couldn’t ask for any better enforcers than Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason.
Anthony Mason IS New York. He was born in Miami but raised in Queens and came up the hard way. He was drafted in the third round by the Portland Trailblazers and then cut shortly afterwards. He spent years in the CBA and the USBL before he was called up to join the Knicks. Teammates took notice of his bruising and rugged play in practice and he quickly earned their respect. He was a perfect fit for their style. From 1991 to 1996 he was part of a glorious run which included consecutive trips to the playoffs going as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. They had earned division and conference titles. Eventually, they finally got over the hump and made it to the NBA Finals where they came up short in an epic series battle with the Houston Rockets. In 1995, He won the 6th Man of the year award.
What I remember fondly about Mase was the crazy haircuts he would have with quotes and phrases on the side of his head. I was always amazed how a man built like an NFL lineman, had superb ball handling skills that rivals Isaiah Thomas. I mean not only would the man snatch a rebound, he could take it coast to coast and finish at the rim, breaking ankles along the way! I remember the awkward form he had to use to shoot the ball because his arms were too diesel.
I remember how him and Oakley would constantly bully Scottie Pippen and rough up Michael Jordan. I also remember the rift he had with Pat Ewing because he felt that he could score too and Ewing shouldn’t always have to get the ball. Did that rift cause him to get traded? I don’t know, but there was a lot of speculation. When he got traded for Larry Johnson (conveniently because the organization felt they needed more offense), I like many Knick fans was skeptical about this move because we knew Mase could score. Besides, LJ had a bad back. By now Mase was a fan favorite so Larry Johnson had to prove himself big time because it was some big shoes he had to fill. Eventually LJ did (4 point play anyone?) but Mase was still missed.
When I found out a week ago that Mase suffered a massive heart attack I was shocked. I had hoped that he would recover. During the week reports came in that said he was recovering. Sadly, last Saturday it wasn’t enough as God called Mase home. As a fan and knowing the type of player that he was, my heart sank hearing the news of his death. It was almost like a friend of mine dying. But I’m glad knowing that Mase left his mark in a big way that you have no choice but to respect. And as a fan, I’ll take that gift. Rest in peace, Mase…
The Boston Celtics Vs The New York Knicks 2013 Playoff Game Two Blue Carpet
R.I.P from WGI, DJ Franchise crying
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