Rapper LL Cool J talks about MJ, Ewing, Anthony Mason and other ex-NBA players

anthony-mason-knicksIn a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, rapper/actor LL Cool J remembered his time growing up in New York, and shared some memories of him and such former NBA players as Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, Baron Davis and Anthony Mason.

LL Cool J has been affiliated with basketball for as long as he can remember. The 45-year-old grew up simultaneously pulling for the New York Knicks and Michael Jordan, and these days he can often be spotted courtside at Madison Square Garden or chatting up any of his large number of NBA friends, including Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Charles Oakley.

LL Cool J said that he dreamt of playing professional football and being on the court like Jordan.

“Michael Jordan was a huge inspiration for me in my career, because [of his] excellence, determination, the right kind of ruthlessness, the right kind of passion, desire, drive. When you think about his famous game when he had the flu and all that, those things inspire you to be the best you can be, no matter what walk of life you’re in.”

He went on to add that Magic Johnson is one of his good friends.

“The things he (Magic) used to do on the court were amazing. When he came back on the court after his announcement and played in the All-Star Game and then the Olympics and brought home the Gold, seeing those things was very inspiring,” LL Cool J said.

“I was always friends with Charles Oakley – we used to hang out all the time. I knew Jordan back then. I know everybody. I’ve known Baron Davis since early on,” he said about the other players.

“Kobe Bryant was a guest when he was a rookie, on In The House, when I did the sitcom. (Back then) he was talking real tough. Super tough. When he was a rookie he used to come to the set and we used to talk trash about playing one-on-one. I know he (Kobe) just went to Germany and got that plasma-rich therapy on his right knee, but I knew he had his Achilles [injury]. This guy is a warhorse,” LL Cool J said.

When asked about the challenge, he said it was never accepted.

“I don’t wanna do that. You don’t want me to do that,” LL Cool J said.

The rapper noted the he grew up as a Knicks fan.

“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,” he said.

However one player from the Knicks, whom LL Cool J recalled was Anthony Mason, a retired NBA All-Star.

“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,” LL Cool J recalled.

Mason played in 882 NBA games (started in 559), for New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, NY Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. Mason averaged career high 16.2 ppg, 5.7 apg and 11.4 rpg for Hornets during the 1996-97 season. He was named NBA All-Star in 2001.


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