Anthony Mason, a longtime NBA player who helped the New York Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals, has died at the age of 48.
A Knicks spokesperson confirmed to ESPN that Mason died early Saturday morning. The 13-year NBA veteran had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier this month.
"First I want to thank all those who offered prayers and well-wishes for my Father, our family really appreciates it," his son, Anthony Mason Jr., said Saturday. "Overnight, New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother ... but more than anything our father, Anthony Mason. As you all would expect our father -- Big Mase -- put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue. I'm wishing this was something else I was writing, but Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us."
Mason's family released a statement Saturday morning, saying that he "fought like a warrior to the very end."
"We would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt thoughts and strong prayers," the statement said. "Anthony felt each and every one. He fought like a warrior to the very end. Please keep your prayers and thoughts with us through this very hard time -- it is a great loss for us. We ask for our privacy during this time."
Mason played for six teams but was best remembered for his five-year tenure with the Knicks. Mason's bruising, physical play epitomized then-coach Pat Riley's Knicks teams. The 6-foot-7 forward became a fan favorite for his physical play and also drew attention for the creative artwork and messages that he had carved in his hair cuts.
Mason teamed with Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley
NEW ORLEANS -- Alexis Ajinca made the go-ahead layup with 26 seconds left and scored a career-high 24 points to help the New Orleans Pelicans won their fourth straight, 104-102 over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
Hassan Whiteside appeared to be going up for a tying dunk when he was blocked by fellow 7-footer Omer Asik, who secured the rebound, but his hasty outlet pass went off Eric Gordon's hands and out of bounds.
That gave Miami one more shot, but Dwyane Wade's 3-point attempt bounced out as time expired, dropping the Heat to its first loss in three games.
Gordon scored 20 points and Tyreke Evans had 19 points and 11 assists for New Orleans before fouling on a charge with the scored tied at 100 and 1:23 left.
Whiteside's dunk then put Miami in front, and Ajinca tied it with his first of two baskets in the last minute.
MIAMI -- Looking for help for the stretch run, the Miami Heat turned to a familiar face.
Michael Beasley is with the Heat for a third time, signing a 10-day contract on Thursday with the team that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick seven years ago.
He said returning to the Heat feels "like I never left, honestly."
Beasley participated in an optional practice in New Orleans on Thursday, working on his shooting and adding a soaring one-handed dunk before walking off the court. He expects to be in uniform against the Pelicans on Friday night.
"I feel great," Beasley said. "I'm definitely blessed and humbled for yet another opportunity, and I'm ready to take it by storm."
Beasley's addition comes less than a week after the Heat learned they would lose All-Star forward Chris Bosh for the remainder of the season because of blood clots on a lung. Miami (25-31) entered Thursday in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Beasley spent this season in China, putting up monster numbers, including a 59-point performance in his league's all-star game. He said he's returned to the NBA a wiser, more patient player who has emphasized trying to "slow down, let the game come. I focus on trying to make the whole group better."
"I'm still explosive. It's just about when to use it and how to use it," Beasley added. "I've just learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about my body and the most efficient ways I can move to help the team, and I just want to show it."
He has been working out in Miami for several days, even practicing in the team facility -- a courtesy that the team extended to him, and a sign that yet another Beasley reunion could be looming.
Now it's official, with Beasley wearing a team T-shirt as he signed his contract on Thursday.
MIAMI -- On good days, the worst hurled at Luol Deng in grade school were the racist slurs a Sudanese refugee child was far too young to comprehend yet never quite able to forget.
Samara, meaning black.
Hunga bunga, mockery for ape.
Shakshuka, epithet from a cheap north African meal.
On bad days, those classroom slurs escalated to slinging fists in the schoolyard.
"It was just constant," Deng, a Miami Heat forward, says 25 years later. "I had this one teacher, and as I got older and translated things he used to say, it was racist and hatred stuff he was saying toward me and my brother. A lot of times, we fought because of that stuff."
Yet this was the better life.
This was the safe haven -- the relative oasis -- during the early 1990s in Alexandria, Egypt, where Deng and eight siblings fled without their parents to escape a decades-long civil war in their native Sudan between the Muslim north and Christian south. Luol's father, Aldo Deng, was a Sudanese government official who, according to British media reports, was jailed in 1989 during a violent coup by Muslim rebels who imposed Sharia law.
Released after three months, Aldo and his wife Martha put their children on a plane to sneak to Egypt under the care of the eldest siblings, who would work and live as refugees. Luol's memory is sketchy from those moments at age 4, but he's heard stories of everyone "waking up at night and leaving all of our belongings behind to get onto a plane, hoping and praying they wouldn't figure out who our father was."
Aldo and Martha then escaped to Europe seeking asylum -- a search that ultimately separated the Deng family for five years, connected only by the struggle they endured a continent apart.
The Magic squandered an eight-point lead with less than a minute play in the fourth quarter, allowing the Heat to send the game to extra time.
Nik Vucevic had all five of the Magic's point in overtime, and finished with 26 points and eight rebounds. Victor Oladipo had 13 points and a career -high 13 rebounds.
Orlando struggled from the free throw line, going just 18 for 31 for the game.