When the 6-foot-7 Anthony Mason swatted a dunk toward an unsuspecting Tom Gugliotta or Hot Rod Williams in his playing days with the Knicks, it was as much a display of brute force as it was an exhibition of basketball. Mase was the gritty epitome of Pat Riley’s mid-1990s Knicks, a player who made his mark on Madison Square Garden with both his body and his iron will. The bruising forward, who could etch semi-cryptic messages such as DOGG POUND into his shaved head, never really left the Knicks’ side after retiring from the NBA in 2003.
But the hoop star whose nickname was “Locksmith” is now fighting for his life. Former New York Post NBA columnist Peter Vecsey tweeted on Wednesday that the former Knick was in critical condition after suffering a heart attack. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, with the New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, the Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1995.
He was born and raised in Springfield Gardens, Queens, where he attended high school and played college ball at Tennessee State, a small, predominantly black university in Nashville, Tenn. After the NBA draft, he went on to play professionally in Turkey and Venezuela, as well as in the CBA and the USBL.
After retiring from the NBA, he worked for CBS News as a reporter and anchor. He was the weekday co-host on CBS This Morning, until he was moved to culture reporting and replaced by Nate Burleson in 2021.