My bro, happy birthday!
Man, you are deeply missed by countless fans, numerous friends, and, of course, your beautiful family. Your departure from this world came too soon, leaving a void in our hearts. Today’s celebration would have been your 57th birthday. There is an extensive list of people who wish we could share this day with you. Up in heaven, know that Knicks fans around the world are acknowledging you on this chilly December morning, while your friends and family honor you with celebrations, tweets and posts circulate the internet to commemorate you.
I can almost envision Freddy figuring out how to fit 57 candles on a cake into another iconic hairstyle, for what would have undoubtedly been an epic party tonight.
You already know this, but like thousands of Knicks fans, I spent the early ‘90s idolizing you as my favorite Knick.
I distinctly remember, at the age of nine, requesting my barber to give me a haircut just like yours. My mom, overhearing from across the room, immediately ran over and said, “Absolutely not!”
When the Knicks traded you to Charlotte, it was as if they ripped apart a piece of their heart and soul. Even though you were no longer in blue and orange, I continued to follow your career with Charlotte, Miami, and Milwaukee. But no matter what, you will always be #14 of the New York Knicks.
The first time I met you, I was still just another fan. It was at an MSG foodcourt during a Knicks-Celtics game in 2009. I approached you, only wanting to shake your hand, and you were beyond gracious, making me feel like a little kid just got to meet Superman.
Years later, I’d say around 2011, during a Knicks viewing party hosted by you and another mutual friend out on Long Island, I was invited to join you both for dinner before the event. That initial night we spent together remains etched in my memory, like one of your famous slogans etched in your hair. It was beyond surreal to be sitting at a table next to you, just us three, listening to all your stories.
I recall vividly your tales of fines and warnings from Pat Riley, emphasizing the consequences if you ever assisted an opponent to their feet. I remember you discussing the trade and how much you immediately missed playing for the Knicks. You shared a lot of jokes, and we had a lot of laughs.
A couple of beers and some wings later, it was time to head to the event, but not before you asked for my contact info. I handed over my cell number, and you reciprocated with a business card bearing three different numbers, which I still have framed. The rest is history.
The next morning, we were already texting back and forth, just shooting the breeze. We had struck up an instant friendship. You told me to let you know the next time I would be in the city so we could grab a drink. There wasn’t a Knicks game that went by that season in which we didn’t text back and forth throughout.
I swiftly discovered that conventional texting hours didn’t apply to you. Messages might pop up at 9 pm or 2 am, but they consistently revolved around a simple check-in, ensuring all was well on my end.
When I first started to design websites for athletes, you immediately asked me to build yours. Going above and beyond, you invited me up to your office and took the initiative to try and connect me with current Knicks and former teammates, which was a kind gesture I hadn’t even requested. When you asked me to get you some promo prints of the homepage design for you to hand out to fans, they ran me about $7 . . . but you handed me $20.
You always looked out for me, and I never got to truly thank you because I never expected it to come to such an unexpected and abrupt end.
The day news broke about your stroke, my heart sank into my stomach. I was shocked and in disbelief. We had just messaged each other a couple nights prior to arrange a meet up for dinner, and you even mentioned considering a trip down for my wedding weekend over the summer.
I’ll never forget that Saturday morning on the 28th of February when I awoke to the notification from NBA.com. All I saw were the words “Former New York Knick” and I didn’t even need to open my phone to see the rest. I just knew. I was numb.
Eight years later, you are even more missed now. We know, as one of your most famous and favorite hair slogans read, that you are “IN GOD’S HANDS.” Time may have healed that instant moment of sadness, but it doesn’t change the fact that you left us all too soon and we all miss you, not just your family and friends, but every one of your fans.
Happy birthday, bro!
P.S. In honor of Mase, we at P&T encourage you to sign this “virtual card” in his honor with any story or memory you’d like to share in the comments section below or in our FanPosts section.