46. Anthony Mason
Anthony Mason, born on December 14th, 1966 in Miami, FL, was a four year starter with Tennessee State. After averaging 10 points per game as a freshman and 18 in his sophomore and junior years, he blossomed to 28 points, 10.4 rebounds and three assists per contest as a senior with the 1987-88 team. The Portland TrailBlazers selected him in the third round (remember the third round?) of the draft, with the 53rd overall pick. He didn't make the cut out of camp, although the Blazers retained his rights. Instead of sitting around, he journeyed to the city of Istanbul, Turkey, where he played his first professional season with Efes Pilsen. The Blazers released him during the 1989 offseason.
Soon thereafter, Mason signed a free agent deal with the New Jersey Nets (21 games). He played three games with the Denver Nuggets in 1990-91 before finally making a mark at the NBA level with the New York Knicks, with whom he played for the next five seasons (395 games). He led the NBA in minutes in 1995-96, with 3457. He then spent three seasons (over four years due to an injury in 1998-99) with the Charlotte Hornets (236 games). On August 1st, 2000, the Hornets traded him with Ricky Davis, Dale Ellis, and Eddie Jones to Miami for PJ Brown, Rodney Buford, Tim James, Jamal Mashburn and Otis Thorpe. Miami would pay him $5,550,000 for his service over one year.
Mason earned his only career all-star selection for his only season in Miami, starting all 80 times that he appeared in the lineup at power forward. He shot 50.5% from the field in 40.7 minutes per game, scoring 16.1 points (team second) with a team leading 9.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists (team third), and one steal (team fourth). He posted 69 games in double digit points and 38 games in double digit rebounds, on 36 occasions on the same night. On November 29th, in an 84-81 victory over the Knicks, he scored 19 points with 18 rebounds and two assists. He scored 24 points with 16 rebounds and three dimes on December 13th, in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, 94-88. In a 93-85 win against the Detroit Pistons on January 16th, he scored 23 points with 18 rebounds. On March 7th, in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, 93-86, he scored 25 points with 15 rebounds and four assists. He drained seven-of-eight field goal attempts, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds and five assists on March 31st, as the Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls, 97-90. The Heat went 50-32, earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami fell to the Charlotte Hornets in three straight games. For his part, Mason scored 16 points and nine rebounds in total.
After the season, Mason signed on to play for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent the last two seasons of his career (147 games). His son, Anthony Jr. tried out for the Heat after playing with St. John's Red Storm in college. Mason died of complications suffered after a massive heart attack on February 28th, 2015 at the age of 48.
Stat Line: 80 games, 40.7 minutes, .482 field goals, .781 free throws, 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 17.4 PER, 11.6 Win Shares.
Cumulative GameScore: 1069.3
45. Rory Sparrow
Rory Sparrow, a 6'2" point guard from Suffolk, VA, was born June 12th, 1958. An alum of Eastside High in Paterson, NJ, he attended Villanova University for four collegiate seasons, averaging 11 points and two and a half rebounds as a senior in 1979-80. The New Jersey Nets selected him in the fourth round of the draft that year, with the 75th overall pick.
Sparrow totalled 15 games that season with the Nets, playing the balance of the season with the CBA's Scranton Aces. After his rookie season, he played with the Atlanta Hawks (131 games), the New York Knicks (347 games), and the Chicago Bulls (55 games). The Heat signed him just before their first game in 1988 to a free agent contract worth $275,000.
With Miami, Sparrow played 80 games that season, all but one as a starter. He played almost 33 minutes per game, scoring 12.5 points on 45.2% field goal shooting with 2.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per contest. He finished in double figures 53 times, including a dozen efforts where he finished with at least 20. He also posted five double doubles. On February 17th, the Heat hosted fellow expansion-ites the Charlotte Hornets, winning 103-102. Sparrow sunk the game winner at the buzzer as commemorative gift fly swatters rained down upon the court. On March 10th, in a 131-130 win against the Denver Nuggets, he led the team with 28 points (on 13-of-18 shooting) with nine assists. On March 15th, he scored a season and game high 29 points with eight assists in a 109-103 Heat victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. On April 18th, he notched a triple double in a 103-99 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 24 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Miami's sophomore campaign would see Sparrow in all 82 games, averaging six points with three and a half assists in 21 minutes per night. He had 21 double digit efforts through the season. On March 7th, he put up his best numbers of the season, scoring 19 points with eight assists and three rebounds in 28 minutes of a 122-105 win over new cross-state rival the Orlando Magic.
During the 1990 offseason, the Heat traded Sparrow to the Sacramento Kings for Bimbo Coles. He played 80 games in Sacramento, later appearing with the Chicago Bulls (four games) and the Los Angeles Lakers (42 games). In 1994, he went to work as the player programs manager for the NBA league office.
Stat Line: 162 games, 27.0 minutes, .438 field goals, .228 three-pointers, .832 free throws, 9.2 points, 4.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 10.6 PER, 2.3 Win Shares.
Cumulative GameScore: 1084.2