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Patrick Ewing reflects on Anthony Mason

3/4/2015

NEW YORK –- Like many of Anthony Mason's former teammates, Patrick Ewing has plenty of Mase stories.

"I don't think a lot of them can be put in the paper,” Ewing said with a chuckle on Wednesday.

Over the next two days at the wake and funeral for Mason in New York, many family members, friends and former teammates will certainly share tales of the beloved former New York Knick with the intimidating scowl and muscular build of an NFL linebacker.

Mason, who embodied much of what those gritty and physical 1990s Knicks teams represented, died last Saturday at the age of 48 due to congestive heart failure.

Ewing, now the associate head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, will fly back to New York on Friday for Mason's funeral before returning to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a game that night.

"One of the stories I remember is one of [former coach Pat Riley's] first practices, with [Charles Oakley], [Xavier McDaniel], Mase and myself and just how physical the practice got," Ewing said before the Hornets faced the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Wednesday. "It really got out of hand, and then a big brawl broke out with X [McDaniel] and Mase and all of us trying to break it up."

As legend has it, Riley, the master motivator, wanted to let Mason and McDaniel continue the brawl, setting a tone for the Knicks in terms of how hard they would work and not back down from any fight.

"Yeah," Ewing said, when asked about Riley wanting to let Mason and McDaniel keep fighting. "But we tried to break it up. No one won. It was a tie."

Ewing played with Mason for five seasons, from 1991 to 1996, before the versatile forward was traded to Charlotte for Larry Johnson. He said he'll never forget how Mason would be beside himself if he didn't get the ball when he thought he should have.

"Mase is very -- I am trying to think of the word … when you miss him and he thinks he should get the ball and he doesn't get it -- he is one of those guys that doesn't mince his words," Ewing said, chuckling again. "'Man, you missed me!' Or one of those things."

The Knicks won an average of 54 games per season with Mason on their roster. It wasn't always a smooth ride, but Ewing will always look back fondly at having Mason by his side.

"We played five years together," Ewing said. "It was one of the highlights of being with the Knicks. Those teams, we felt we had an opportunity or a chance to go real far.

"It was great to share those moments with him," Ewing added. "It is sad to see him at that early age that he is not going to be with us anymore."