Anthony Mason (1966-2015)
TSU Legend Holds Special Place

Anthony Mason Photo credit: CBS Interactive

Anthony Mason
Photo credit: CBS Interactive

“The Tennessee State University family is saddened over the loss of alumnus Anthony Mason. We send our condolences to the Mason family during this difficult time and will keep them in our prayers.”

“Anthony was a basketball standout during his time here at TSU and was key in helping our program have a successful transition into the Ohio Valley Conference. His hallmark defense and tenacity on the court embodied the spirit and winning legacy of TSU’s storied Athletics Program and undoubtably led to his selection as NBA Sixth Man of the Year as a player with the New York Knicks in 1994.”

“We cheered and beamed with pride at his success at TSU and during his 13 year career in the NBA. Now, we will stand by his family in their time of need and remember Anthony as an exceptional athlete, loving husband, devoted father, and always as a part of the Tennessee State University Family.”
(Official Statement by Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover – February 28, 2015)

Tennessee State legend and NBA star Anthony Mason passed away last Saturday at the age of 48 due to complications from congestive heart failure. Despite numerous emergency procedures performed frantically in the closing days, Mason’s condition proved irreversible. It is tragic irony that Mason succumbed to heart problems, when few ever played the game of basketball with as much heart as Mason did whether for the Tigers or in the professional ranks.

Mason starred for the Big Blue from 1985-1988 totaling 2,076 points and 894 rebounds, and became the school’s first all-OVC performer in 1988. Mason was drafted in the third round by Portland, then going on to New Jersey and Denver before finding a home in New York in 1991. A native of Queens, Mason identified with the area and the area welcomed him. Perfectly suited for Coach Pat Riley’s tough and tumble style he employed there, Mason quickly became a fan favorite.

Mason played for the Knicks from 1991-1996 and was an integral part of their 1994 Finals team; a team though they lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets, holds a much esteemed place in Knicks lore. Mason was a defensive and rebounding force for those teams, and he could not be pushed around either figuratively or literally. He was a thorn in the side of Michael Jordan as the Knicks battled the Bulls seemingly every year in the playoffs, and then of Scottie Pippen once Jordan took his baseball sabbatical.

Going from playing alongside one legendary Georgetown center in Patrick Ewing in New York, to another in Alonzo Mourning in Charlotte, Mason was traded in 1996 in the deal which brought Larry Johnson to New York. It was a deal so unpopular among Knicks fans, they booed Johnson at Madison Square Garden for quite a while. His numbers in Charlotte only added to the angst in New York 16.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists from the power forward spot in a season that saw him earn achieve four triple-doubles, almost unheard of from his position. A regular for the Hornets, Mason was traded to Miami in 2000, later finishing in Milwaukee in 2003.

His professional accolades included NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1995, all-NBA third team and Defensive second team in 1997, and he led the league in minutes played three times proving his on-court importance. In 2001, he made his only all-star team. But Anthony Mason was an all-star many more times than once. He left a legacy every place he went.