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.