Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anthony Mason: Career Retrospective and NBA 2K Rating Tribute

Anthony Mason tragically passed away this morning at the age of 48.  Mason left his mark as one of the hardest working players in NBA history, a colorful, blue collar fan favorite that that was a prominent member of the 93-94 New York Knicks team that got me into basketball 20 years ago.

I have long been an admirer of Mason's game.  When I look at LeBron James today I see Anthony Mason with a jump shot and more athleticism.  Mason was that skilled, talented, and driven to bulldoze the opposition.  Never before had there been a player with his size, strength, and toughness who could ALSO handle the basketball and run an offense like a point guard.

Mason was a true journeyman early in his career.  He played only 129 minutes over his first two seasons with New Jersey and Denver, played internationally in Turkey and Venezuela, and toiled in the minor-league USBL and CBA before Pat Riley gave him a shot on the Knicks summer league team in 1991.  Beyond Charles Oakley, no Knicks player epitomized grit and grind "Riley-Ball" more than Anthony Mason.

When the Knicks went to the NBA Finals in 1994.  Mason would guard Hakeem Olajuwon on one end and then lead the break on the other.  At a time where teams were only beginning to realize the value of having a Stretch-Four or Point-Forward, Mason was a pioneer.

In 1995 Mason broke out, averaging 9.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 3.1 APG while shooting 56.6% from the field, and was awarded the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award.  The following season new Knicks coach Don Nelson fell so in love with Mason's talents that he not only inserted him into the starting lineup, he took the ball out of Patrick Ewing and John Starks hands and gave it to Mason.  While the mad scientist's changes were so drastic that it lead to him being ousted in 58 games (Ewing and company lobbied hard for Jeff Van Gundy), it was by no fault of Mason, who rose to the challenge and averaged 14.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, and a league leading 42.2 MPG.  Mason's versatility and tenacity on both ends of the court were rivaled only by Scottie Pippen.

That summer the Knicks wanted to make a big splash and ended up trading Mason for two-time all-star Larry Johnson.  While Johnson is likewise one of my favorite Knicks and had some big moments for the team, this ended up being a mistake for the Knicks.  Johnson's lingering back issues became more troublesome as he got older (coinciding with his escalating salary) and he struggled to fit in as a SF next to Ewing and Oakley.  Johnson never played at an All-Star level again, whereas Mason's game continued to improve.

In 1997 Mason was named to the All-NBA Third team and All-Defensive Second Team.  He lead the league in minutes once again with 43.1 MPG, and was the backbone of an oft-forgotten 54-win Hornets team that featured prime Glen Rice and Vlade Divac.  As a testament to his unique ability, he was the only starting small forward in the league to not even ATTEMPT a three-pointer (despite logging 3,457 minutes).

Ironically, Mason missed the entire 1999 with a ruptured bicep, which allowed the Knicks to sneak into the playoffs as an 8th seed and make a run to the NBA Finals.  The Hornets finished the lockout shortened season with a record of 26-24, one game worse than the Knicks.  We're left to imagine the possibilities of how the Hornets could have shaped basketball history with a healthy Mason.

Mason was reunited with Pat Riley in 2001 when Miami acquired Mason via trade.  When the Heat lost Alonzo Mourning for the season due to his kidney ailment, Mason picked up the slack and carried the team to 50 wins and the playoffs, earning an All-Star berth at the age of 34.  He was the oldest first-time All-Star in NBA history.
Rest in piece Mase.

Anthony Mason (94-95) - Sixth Man of the Year
77 Overall (+1)

Height: 6'7"
Weight: 250
Age: 29
Hand: Left
Jersey: 14
Position: PF/SF (from SF/PF)
Archetype: Point Power Forward (from Rebounding Specialist)

T1: Post Up High
T2: P&R Roll Man
T3: P&R Ball Handler
Initiator: Yes

88 Standing Layup (+3)
75 Driving Layup (+13)
65 Post Fadeaway (-10)
75 Post Hook (+12)
77 Post Control

76 Standing Close-Shot (+7)
68 Moving Close-Shot (+8)
66 Standing Mid-Range (+2)
58 Moving Mid-Range
30 Standing 3PT (+5)
30 Moving 3PT (-8)
64 Free Throw

72 Ball Control (+5)
59 Passing Vision (-4)
72 Passing IQ (+8)
70 Passing Accuracy (+5)

77 Boxout (-2)
70 Offensive Rebound (-4)
77 Defensive Rebound (-2)

68 Lateral Quickness
70 Pass Perception
41 Block (+9)
72 Shot Contest (+5)
65 Steal (+10)
80 Defensive Consistency
72 On-Ball Defense (+5)
78 Pick & Roll Defense (+10)
79 Help Defense (+15)
84 Post Defense (+5)


45 Standing Dunk
60 Driving Dunk
69 Speed
68 Quickness
60 Vertical (-4)
94 Strength (-1)
99 Stamina (+22)
95 Durability (+13)


90 Hustle (+10)
63 Shot IQ (-15)
75 Hands
70 Offensive Consistency (-10)
85 Potential (+1)

Default: Spark Plug
ADD: Mind Games, Enforcer, Hardened, Legendary Work Ethic, Expressive


Default: None
ADD: Hustle Points (Bronze), Break Starter (Bronze), Scrapper (Silver), Tenacious Rebounder (Bronze), Post Lockdown Defender (Bronze), Bruiser (Silver), Brick Wall (Bronze), One Man Fastbreak (Bronze)

1 comment:

Sherwin J said...

Please post the link where I can download the roster file of nba2k15 ps3. I would like to update in offline mode.