R.I.P. Anthony Mason, a 1990’s NBA treasure and New York Knicks legend

By: Kels Dayton

Anthony Mason was 1990’s basketball. He was bruising, beat-you-up, back-you-down, no hand checks, no layups, no-blood-no-foul, and certainly no flopping.

He was awesome haircuts, one-handed free throws, and protect-Patrick-Ewing-at-all-costs. He was a fan favorite, Knicks legend, and Garden regular.



We’d be remiss (remissed?) if we didn’t send out a proper R.I.P. to “Mase,” one of the memorable players of my youth, and a guy who could grab rebounds and throw bows in any era.

I was in grade school when those Knicks teams were quite literally fighting for an NBA championship, and Mason was one of the guys I emulated when I went outside to shoot around and pretend I was playing in real NBA games.

Mason brought New York City toughness to the court (he grew up in Queens), and those ’90s sensibilities that were even more magnified for me because I was a kid. It wasn’t just the patterns in his shaved head, his back-you-down offensive game, or his colorful sneakers. It was the fact that he dunked on people and fought them in the street.

He was like a mini-Charles Barkley, except for the fact that he was four inches taller (6-8) and not nearly as good. But that didn’t matter to Knicks fans.

Anthony Mason was a ’90s treasure. He was the personification of that decade’s cultural philosophy.

It was really cool watching his son, Anthony Mason Jr., play college ball at St. John’s, with a completely different skill set and body type (he was a lanky, sharp-shooting 2-guard). Big Mase would show up in the stands at the Garden, and fans would go crazy, in the way only New York fans do. It’s one thing to be a beloved athlete in New York City, but it’s another to come back and watch your son play for the city’s college team, with fans cheering the both of you on. That’s got to be an incredible feeling.

Part of Mason’s charm was that he would sometimes walk to his seat with his signature bucket of chicken, though it may have been that type of lifestyle that eventually contributed to his heart problems. But that was the ’90s, when McDonald’s was King, the economy was booming and most people believed that nothing horrible was going to happen to them.

I wish we could go back to those days, when life was easier, and things didn’t seem to have such dire consequences.

We lost Anthony Mason way too soon at the age of 48.

And just like the ’90s, I wish we could have him back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *