It was crazy, because the last place you expect to see a star of any stature is in your hood, especially a not-so-friendly hood like Spanish Harlem. But there he was quietly enjoying his slice of pizza and a small soda when he decided to interject himself into a passionate conversation I was having with my brother regarding the Knicks.
Because he wasn’t recognizable I took offense with his comment that I shouldn’t be so upset the Knicks lost because most NBA players are not! As politely as I could, I told the gentleman “that he had no idea what he was talking about”, and then continued to ignore him. At that point he reaches into this wallet and pulls out a business card with the name Dean Meminger on it, and flashes a huge grin. I think for a second, because the name rings a bell, then he tells us “I used to play for the New York Knicks”.
Immediately my embarrassment showed as I apologized for my smart remark and shook hands with the Knick legend. It was amazing talking about the 73’ season, the youth counseling he was doing at that time, and the Knicks chances of winning the title the following season. While it was apparent that he wasn’t rich by any means, he still carried himself with the dignity of a champion!
Many of the details of that encounter remain a bit fuzzy, but one thing that I clearly remember was Mr. Meminger being extremely humble and gracious. When I heard of his recent passing I immediately thought back to that afternoon when I shared a meal with an NBA Champion, and a man who exemplified “class”. That’s how I will always remember the original “Dream”.