NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former New York Knicks power forward Anthony Mason has died.

Mason, 48, suffered a heart attack in early February.

Mason’s family released a statement Saturday thanking everyone for their “heartfelt thoughts and strong prayers.”

“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,” the statement continued.

Anthony Mason was one of the key muscle men of the Pat Riley era Knicks. He averaged 7.6 points during New York’s run to Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 1994 and then won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award the following season.

Mason said last year on WFAN radio that he had been seeking a job with the franchise.

Following news of his passing, Knicks President Phil Jackson offered condolences to Mason’s family.

“As a competitor, there was none fiercer than Anthony Mason. Standing on the opposite end of the playing field, coaching in those great Chicago/New York battles, No. 14 in the Orange and Blue always stood out. On behalf of the entire Knickerbocker community, our condolences go out to Lahis family. Rest in peace, Mase,” the statement said.

Mason played for New York from 1991-1996, and then for the Charlotte Hornets until 2000. He made his only All-Star team in 2001 as a member of the Miami Heat.

“For five seasons, Anthony Mason proudly donned a Knicks uniform like no other of his era. His New York City roots, his passion for the City game, his desire to win and his tenacity for defense made him a fan-favorite across the five boroughs, and beyond for every Knickerbocker. All of us here at the New York Knicks will remember Mase and cherish his legacy,” General Manage Steve Mills said.

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