It's a mystery that's hung over the New York Knicks since 1997. Fans have debated its answers online for years. Former players have kept quiet. For nearly 20 years, fans of hip-hop and basketball have waited for their "Deep Throat" to this burning question: Which New York Knick was Notorious B.I.G. rapping about in the song "I Got A Story To Tell" from his final album, "Life After Death"?
On Monday, we got somewhat of an answer. Fat Joe, a Bronx rapper who rose to stardom in the late '90s, claimed on ESPN's "Highly Questionable" that the Knicks player who Biggie rapped about is none other than Anthony Mason, a 6-foot-7 forward who died last year at 48.
Holy crap. Anthony Mason? That's damn right.
So why does the identity of the man referenced in "I Got A Story To Tell" matter? Rappers name-drop NBA superstars all the time now in an endearing way. Well, not in this case. For three minutes, Biggie waxes poetic about sleeping with Mason's girlfriend in Mason's own bed while he played a game. But while Biggie and Mason's girlfriend enjoy a post-sex smoke, Mason comes home. Here's how Biggie raps about getting out of the "Trapped in the Closet" situation:
Flash the heat on 'em, he stood emotionless
Dropped the glass screamin, "Don't blast here's the stash
A hundred cash just don't shoot my ass, please!"
N**** pullin' mad G's out the floor
Put stacks in a Prada knapsack, hit the door
Grab the keys to the five, call my n**** on the cell, "Bring some weed I got a story to tell, uhh"
Yup, yup, yup! Fully masked, Biggie pulled a gun on Mason and robbed him of thousands of dollars. Ouch! Not a good look for Mason. At the end of the song, Biggie retells his story to his friends in a recording, and they all laugh at how scared Mason was at the sight of a gun. Never has getting robbed and cheated on been so embarrassing.
But remember, for decades, nobody knew which Knick Biggie was rapping about. He left one clue in the song's outro: "One of them six-five n*****, I don't know." Fans of basketball and hip-hop poured over Knicks rosters and their height measurements from 1995 to 1997, when "Life After Death" was recorded. Possibilities that were floated out there over the years: John Starks, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston and Hubert Davis.
Starks, however, was cleared in September 2014, when "Highly Questionable" asked him whether he was the player in "I Got A Story To Tell." He denied that, but did confirm that the story was, in fact, true:
"Highly Questionable" hosts Bomani Jones and Dan Le Batard deserve all the credit in the world for hunting down the identity of Biggie's Knicks nemesis.
They gave the people what they want.