The Players Tribune published an absolutely amazing article today by God Shammgod. The NYC playground legend and current Dallas Mavericks' player development coach was able to jam so many tasty content nuggets into one article that I'm suddenly wondering who is working on his biography. You really must visit TPT to read the whole thing, but I'll just grab one little piece to share here in the interest of mixing sports and pop culture.
This is about how Shammgod first got into basketball as a nine-year-old. When he moved to Harlem, all he wanted to do was fight because that's what kids did in Brooklyn, but like all players, he was introduced to the sport by someone. Unlike most people, he was introduced to basketball by Mase.
"The first kid I got cool with was this dude Mason Betha, and he introduced me to the culture. Mase was like ... you know how every school got that one kid? I’m talking ’bout that one where all the teachers be lecturing you like, “Stop acting up! Y’all need to be more like Mase over here.” (Fast forward eight years, and he’s not just little Mase with the perfect homework no more. Now he’s Ma$e. Harlem World!!! Hahahaha!! For real. Can’t stop till he see his name on da blimp!!!) He was actually the one who first put a basketball in my hand. I remember he took me to the court and I literally didn’t know what was going on. I was nervous, but I was so captivated by the lights, the energy, the nicknames. "
I'm honestly not sure if that is one of the top five most fascinating stories or name drops in Shammgod's piece, but man what a reveal. If not for Mase, who knows if arguably the greatest ball-handler in the history of the sport would have ever picked up a basketball.
In February 1997 Puff Daddy and Mase released "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down." In March 1997 Shammgod and Providence lost to eventual national champions Mike Bibby and the Arizona Wildcats in the Elite 8. In June 1997 the Wizards drafted Shammgod with the 45th pick in the NBA Draft. In July "Mo Money Mo Problems" was released. In October Mase released Harlem World and Shammgod made his NBA debut.
Quite a year for any two people. Both of whom created lasting legacies. One influenced Kanye West and Jay Z. The other invented a move that has inspired multiple mini-documentaries.
For Shammgod, he continues to build his legacy as a teacher, which again, you can read about in his article. The details of his life, as well as the moved named after him, are just incredible.