Anthony Mason Made An Impact On My Life
The day Anthony Mason passed away, it truly felt like we just lost of our best people. It’s taken me weeks to write this, because I literally would choke up every time I started to type. That’s how much of an impact Mase had on my life. He probably didn’t know it, though I suspect he had an idea.
Mase came from the same playgrounds and summer leagues that spawned myself and thousands of other hoops hopefuls in NYC. He played on Prime Time, a team loaded with so much basketball talent, they could rival any NBA team. Speedy, Conrad, DC, and Tony Hargraves, just to name a few. Then there was Mase. Even after Mase got to the NBA, he still came back and played with his old team. You could find him at West 4th in the summer, telling Speedy to get him the ball, or talking trash to hecklers watching the games at The Cage.
Mase paid the fees for our Nike Pro-City summer league for years through his agent Don Cronson. When he signed with Converse, he had them send Mr. Couch (or coach) hundreds of sneakers for his summer league teams. When we had our workouts at F.I.T., Mase would go through the conditioning drills with the college kids, and play on their squads. He taught us the game while playing with us. He even played with us at Nike Pro-City. Having Mase, an NBA starter on the Knicks, showing us what it took to become a Pro helped me tremendously.
Mase had signed a nice deal with the Miami Heat. My traveling basketball team was in Miami so we hit him up. Mase took Speedy, Carl and myself to a very nice restaurant where we talked hoops and laughed for hours. Mase was driving his brand new Bentley convertible. He was very proud of it, and was acting super silly. But this was it. He had really made it, and was enjoying the fruits of years of hard work. We were on our way to the next destination, when Mase said he had to get gas. We get to the gas station, and he couldn’t open the gas cover! It took all four of us almost 30 minutes before we finally found the button to pop open the gas tank.
As much as Mase accomplished in his playing career, it was these moments that defined him as a great person in my eyes. He came from nothing, worked hard to achieve something, never forgot his roots and tried to pull us up with him.
Thanks for the life lessons Mase. I’ll never forget you, and I will honor your memory by bringing a few Uptowners with me.