After hearing that former NBA all-star Mookie Blaylock was injured in a car crash last Friday, members of Pearl Jam sent get-well wishes to the point guard from whom the band borrowed its original name, The New York Times reports.
Blaylock, 46, was driving a Cadillac Escalade in a suburb of Atlanta when the vehicle crossed over the median and struck a van traveling in the opposite direction head on. A passenger in the van, Monica Murphy, died in the collision, and Blaylock was seriously injured. Police in Jonesboro, Georgia, have charged him with driving on a suspended license and failing to stay in his lane. The authorities are investigating the crash, though Blaylock’s brother-in-law, Bryan Bennett, told USA Today that Blaylock had recently had a siezure.
Blaylock and Pearl Jam go way back. When the band needed a name for an early tour opening for Alice in Chains, they chose Blaylock’s. Though the musicians quickly renamed themselves Pearl Jam, they named their first album, Ten, after the NBA star’s jersey number. Blaylock played for the New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors during a 13-year career.
“I was a huge Mookie fan,” Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament said. “He was really unselfish; great shooter; great fundamentals.”
Since Friday, Pearl Jam have been in contact with people involved with basketball for regular updates on the former player’s condition. The band posted a get-well message on Instagram and a photo of an old Pearl Jam T-shirt that featured Blaylock in a Nets jersey.
The band met Blaylock when he traveled to Seattle to play the SuperSonics, and a game of H-O-R-S-E ensued, prompting competition and conversation. Ament recalls getting a few letters on his hero, and gaining insight into Blaylock as a person.
“You always worry when you meet people who have been on your radar for that long, rock stars included,” Ament said. “He was one of the one out of 10 guys who exceeds your expectations, in terms of how nice he was.”