Tag Archives: John Starks

Knicks legend John Starks scores with LeFrak City library visit


| svrattos@queenscourier.com

Photos by Stephen Vrattos

Legendary Knicks shooting guard John Starks visited the Queens Library at LeFrak City on Tuesday as part of the 9th annual “Knicks Read to Achieve” summer reading program, sponsored by Optimum Community and Madison Square Garden.

Joining the venerable NBA superstar, who turned 50 the day before, was Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

Targeted to children ages 6 to 12, “Knicks Read to Achieve” consists of a series of reading events at libraries, camps and community centers throughout the New York/New Jersey metro areas. The initiative encourages reading through the use of incentives and is highlighted by read-aloud events with Knicks alumni and elected officials at select locations.

Despite the morning’s torrential downpour, parents and children of all ages filled the community room of the library to meet the Knicks all-time leader in three point field goals; read with him and the councilwoman; pick up some free goodies, such as a children’s book, book bag and T-shirt; participate in an interactive quiz and try to their luck at winning a pair of tickets to an upcoming New York Liberty basketball game.

Starks proved he was as adept at playing solo as he was with a team, when Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland was delayed. He spoke with the kids and engaged in some friendly banter, which helped prevent the youngsters from getting fidgety and disruptive. He asked the children what sports they liked, what books they’ve read and what they enjoyed doing in the summer.

Basketball was a clear favorite to the former question. To the second, a child spoke of a story she’d read, about a little girl, like herself, who started baking cupcakes as a means of combatting the bullying she was getting at school, to which Starks admitted, he too was bullied as a kid. When one of the young audience members mentioned swimming as a favorite summer pastime, the Knicks alumnus asked if anyone had seen “Jaws.” “It kept me out of the water,” he revealed.

Starks also introduced “Salt in His Shoes,” the book he would to read with the kids, of which every child received a free copy when they arrived. Written by Deloris Jordan, mother of NBA superstar Michael Jordan, the picture book tells the story of young Michael’s early hardship at playing neighborhood basketball against kids much taller than himself, and how fierce determination and hard work, along with a little motherly advice, led him to overcome the odds and succeed.

“We’re here to talk about the greatest basketball player ever,” Starks said. “Who do you think that is?” Upon hearing his own name yelled out, Starks gave a hearty laugh. “Yeah, it was me,” he teasingly said, before humbling admitting it wasn’t he.

No mention was made by the Knicks great of the famous “dunk” play on Michael Jordan during the 1993 Eastern Conference finals against the Chicago Bulls, although one can’t help but wonder if the moment, one of the most famous plays in Knicks history and one of the rare few wherein Jordan was bested by another, was in the back of Starks’ mind during the above exchange.

“Everyone in this room is important,” Ferreras-Copeland said upon her arrival, before telling parents and children alike that New York City spends 78 billion dollars a year on education and kids should “use the library to get smart. We believe in you.” The councilwoman touted the importance and wonder of reading. “You can travel anywhere in the world; meet anyone from another country in a single day just by reading a book.”

Starks began reading “Salt in His Shoes,” quickly ceding the duties to Ferreras-Copeland, who soon turned the reading over to volunteers from the audience.

“My mother pushed me to go to the library and read,” Starks revealed. “And my grandmother read the Bible to us.” The former NBA superstar named “Peter Pan” as his favorite book growing up. “I like fantasy,” he said. “I like the idea of being able to fly!”


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Former New York Knick Anthony Mason honored by Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens honored New York Knicks star and Queens native Anthony Mason by dedicating its basketball court in his memory on May 20.

The court will now forever be known as “Mason’s Court.”

Mason was born and raised in Springfield Gardens before making it to the NBA to play for his hometown team, the New York Knicks. Earlier this year, Mason died of a heart attack at the age of 48.

Before Merrick Academy became Queens’ first charter school, the gymnasium belonged to a church in the neighborhood where Mason spent his youth shooting hoops.

“Anthony Mason was a member of this community, and it’s wonderful to be a part of some communities that are producing great people who have achieved a lot in life,” said Gerald Karikari, chairman of the board of trustees for Merrick Academy. “While he was taken away from us too soon, we want to honor his spirit because we want you to know that if you play basketball on this court, you too can do anything you want.”

Mason’s family and former teammate on the Knicks, John Starks, were present at the ceremony to honor Mason’s memory.

“This is only fitting that this court will be named after him, in this community,” Starks said. “Anthony came from this same community that a lot of you guys come from and he learned, just like you guys learn. And he was able to reach his goals and his dreams through school,” Starks told the students in the gym.

Mason’s son, Anthony Mason Jr., spoke to the children about his father and following their dreams.

“When you come in here and you see this gym, and you see Anthony Mason’s name, let it inspire you,” Mason Jr. said. “So when you see that name, know that your dreams will come true, and can come true, through hard work and being dedicated.”

After the ceremony, both of Anthony Mason’s sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, took the ceremonial first shots on the court, followed by some shooting by Starks and the children who were in the gymnasium.

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24-Hour Repackathon set to break record


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of City Harvest

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, one organization is looking to make a difference while also setting a new record.

City Harvest, a food rescue organization founded in 1982, will host its second annual 24-Hour Repackathon on Thursday in Long Island City with the mission to help feed hungry New Yorkers across the five boroughs over the winter and holidays.

“This is part of our initiative to keep shelves at food pantries stocked for the winter,” said Samantha Park, manager of communications for City Harvest. “For a lot of people they have to make the difficult choice between paying rent and putting food on the table for their children.”

During the event, which will be held at City Harvest’s LIC Food Rescue Facility located at 55-01 Second St., more than 300 volunteers will repack bulk food donations into family-sized packages for 24 hours straight.

Participants include members from corporations such as Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo and many others. Restaurants, including Astoria’s Butcher Bar, will also donate food for volunteers.

“It’s just a great way to give back. The holidays are around the corner and people are always thinking about ways they could help,” Park said. “These are big businesses in New York City giving back to the community.”


Starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, volunteers will arrive in groups of 50 for three-hour shifts in which they will repack packages that will go out to over 500 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city.

At last year’s inaugural 24-Hour Repackathon, City Harvest set a world record by repacking close to 215,000 pounds of food, according to Park. This year, the organization plans to surpass that record with the goal of repacking 225,000 pounds, enough to feed more than 2,000 families.

During the last shift on Friday, which will end at 5 p.m., special guest volunteers will include U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former New York Knicks player John Starks.

“There are times that we can all come together and help each other,” Park said. “That’s what our organization is all about, having New Yorkers come together and help each other out.”

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John Starks and St. John’s Dribbles for a Cure


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

In front of nearly 400 students, children and family members, St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin stood in his trademark black pants and white sneakers. His focus wasn’t basketball, the upcoming season or the string of new Dribbles recruits he has ushered in.

Instead, Lavin reminded the crowd that cancer, in one way or another, affects everyone sooner or later.

“Cancer will touch everyone at some point in your lifetime,” he said. “Whether it’s you personally going through that battle, just the probabilities, the law of averages, a sibling, a mother or father, a grandfather, someone in the neighborhood, someone that is a good friend. It’s going to touch all of us at some point.”

Lavin, who last year underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, was one of several St. John’s sports officials who took part in the school’s second “Dribble for the Cure,” held on Saturday, September 22 to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Among those who came out to support the cause were former longtime coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser, women’s basketball coach Joe Tartamella and New York Knicks alum John Starks.

At press time, the event raised around $25,000 for research, according to the school.

Taking a break from training for their upcoming seasons, players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in the dribble, which circled around the school’s campus before reconvening at their home court in Carnesecca Arena.

One of those players, guard Phil Greene, said taking the time out to participate in an event like this really benefited the kids who were battling cancer.

“Giving back to the kids, you give them something to look forward to,” he said. “Giving the time out of our day, it’s nothing because they’re going through a lot of turmoil right now. It just makes you feel good, because they look up to us and we just give them something just to look forward to.”

Starks, who has lost several relatives to cancer, said he lost his grandmother, mother and sister to breast cancer and could empathize what it was like to battle the disease.

“I understand what the families go through, and it’s great to see we’re all here and understanding that this fight is never, never, never ending,” he said.

Lavin, who before the event confirmed to reporters that he is now cancer free, told the participants that their attendance was inspiring and should drive others to support the fight against cancer.

“Clearly, this is an example of the human spirit, and that’s what this is really a celebration of,” he said. “Those that support loved ones that are struggling with the dreaded disease are showing compassion, and compassion is part of the human spirit. Your time is well spent today and I want you to pat yourself on the back for showing up, showing a great example for others to follow and creating great synergy.”

Junior Knicks League crowns champion


| brennison@queenscourier.com

JuniorKnicksGroupShotw

The Junior Knicks League, joined by a New York basketball legend, recently held its championship game at August Martin High School.

Former Knicks star John Starks came out to watch teams from Jamaica and South Ozone Park battle it out for the championship on Friday, March 30.

The Junior Knicks teams from P.S. 40 in Jamaica and M.S. 226 in South Ozone Park took to the hardwood, with P.S. 40 taking home the title.

All the participating schools — P.S.48, P.S.55, P.S. 62, P.S.155, P.S 160 and P.S.223 — attended the league’s championship game.

“I am proud to have funded the Junior Knicks program. This program introduced young men and women to the sport of basketball, promoted mentorship, team building, healthy habits, sportsmanship and parental involvement,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “It is important to look for every measure to expand the educational support communities beyond the walls of the school.”

Train Like a Knick: New contest supports city hoop dreams


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Michael Pantelidis

With “Lin-sanity” in full swing and Carmelo Anthony returning to the lineup, it seems like everybody wants to play on the New York Knickerbockers these days.

Now city kids will have that chance as the Big Apple’s hoops squad is teaming up with the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in announcing the launch of the first ever, “Train Like a Knick!” fan contest.

Supporting the importance of overall fitness and wellness, fans are invited to submit entertaining and healthy exercise videos showing how they train like their favorite Knicks players. The contest winners will receive a Knicks training experience at MSG Training Center, including personalized basketball drills and workouts with Knicks alumni and team’s training and rehabilitation staff.

“The exercise session designed by HSS reminded me that physical training sometimes goes beyond the basketball court,” said John Starks, who played for the Knicks from 1990 to 1998 and is currently an alumni relations and fan development advisor for the team. “My hope is that all recreational players understand the importance of exercise when playing basketball and will continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Basketball fans 16 years of age and older are invited to submit a short video of 60 seconds or less showcasing how they “Train Like a Knick.” All content will be evaluated on originality, creativity and association with health and wellness. This may include specific basketball drills on rebounding and defense, stretching exercises or even making healthy food choices. Submissions will be accepted via HSS’s Facebook page until March 15, 2012.

Five finalists will be selected, and then fans across the country will have the opportunity to vote for their three favorites. In addition, each winner can invite up to four friends to “Train Like a Knick” too. One grand prize winner will also receive a VIP Knicks package.

“On behalf of HSS, we are proud to support the New York Knicks and are excited to bring this program and health and wellness messages to the fans,” said Lou Shapiro, president and CEO of HSS. “Together we strive to help both the professional athlete and the ‘weekend warrior’ keep moving and stay injury-free.”

To enter the “Train Like a Knick!” contest, fans must first “Like” Hospital for Special Surgery on Facebook. The “Train Like a Knick” contest is open to legal U.S. residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, at least 16 years old at the time of entry, who reside within a 75-mile radius of Madison Square Garden.