N E W   O R L E A N S, July 4, 2000 -- Anthony Mason, starting forward for the Charlotte Hornets, was arrested for allegedly inciting a riot and assaulting police in the city’s French Quarter.

Mason, 33, of Charlotte, N.C., was arrested Monday about 9:15 p.m. after he was sprayed with pepper by officers, said police spokesman Joseph Narcisse.

A pair of officers noticed two groups of men arguing over women on Bourbon Street, Narcisse said. When the officers tried to separate the groups, Mason, who is 6-foot-8 and weighs 270 pounds, hit one of the officers and began rallying the crowd, Narcisse said.

The officer who had been hit sprayed Mason with pepper, but with little effect, Narcisse said.

Other officers arrived and some in the crowd threw bottles and shouted racial slurs at police, Narcisse said.

Mason Arrested

Mason fled and the crowd followed him, while police went to the 8th District station, where they regrouped, arrested Mason and took him to the city’s charity hospital to have his face treated, Narcisse said.

No police were seriously hurt in the melee, Narcisse said.

Mason will be booked with inciting a riot, battery on police officers and resisting arrest, Narcisse said.

It was not Mason’s first brush with the law. He was arrested on two counts of misdemeanor assault last February after a scuffle outside a barroom in the Harlem section of New York City. The charges were later dropped when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to convict him.

Mason, who has played with New Jersey, Denver and the New York Knicks, led the Hornets in 1997-98 in field goal shooting percentage and rebounds for the second consecutive season. He has appeared in 83 NBA playoff games, averaging 9.9 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and 2.3 assists per game.

In NBA promotions, Mason has said he “sees a career in criminal justice after his playing career ends.”