ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I did not grow up in New York City, so I missed the ’80s and ’90s heyday of the New York Knicks. But that doesn’t mean I totally missed it — even today, when the Knicks are struggling to get on the right side of .500, the names of the most beloved Knicks players are still conjured frequently: Ewing. Starks. Oakley.
And then there was Mason. Anthony Mason was one of those players perfect for New York City — a guy who came out of nowhere, bounced around basketball’s minor leagues, earned a chance with the Knicks and played with so much tenacity and sheer force that he was hard to keep out of the line-up.
Apparently Mason’s unique combination of size and strength also proved useful in other ways. In a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, rapper/actor LL Cool J remembered his time growing up in New York, when Mase came to his aid a few times…
SLAM: You grew up in New York City. Always been a Knicks fan?
LL: I grew up a Knicks fan, but you know what? I was always conflicted because Mike was so inspiring during the time when I was coming up in New York. But Pat Ewing was always a good friend of mine. Oakley [was a good friend], after he came to New York. I knew all the players. Anthony Mason was my man—he used to be in Queens all the time in my neighborhood. He used to throw guys out of barbecues for me. They were talking trash to me and Anthony Mason used to come in and grab them and be like, “Y’all gotta go! Y’all gotta go!” He was my man.