Momma, momma, that man with the muscles can fly! (Courtesy GoLobos.com)
By Daniel Faris
Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
Have you ever met someone with a bionic leg?
I have, and I have been on the receiving end of what a bionic leg can do.
It was my freshman year in college. I thought I was a great shot blocker; I quickly learned that wasn’t the case.
Coach Ritchie McKay had us doing a 2-on-1 fast-break drill. I was the defender, and as two offensive players approached, I carefully timed one of the player’s approach to the rim. In high school, this was an easy block. Not so with Tony Danridge. He jumped off his bionic leg (right leg) and cocked the ball back with his left hand. I jumped as I had a hundred times before. The difference this time was that his arm was at the top of the backboard and mine was barely over the rim! That day, I earned the nickname “dunk bait” from some of the loving upperclassmen.
Tony not only dunked on me all the time in college, but he’s also one of my best friends from my UNM days. Tony has been playing professionally overseas for the last 10 years. He has made stops in the G league, Lebanon (where we were teammates for a short time), the Philippines, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay. It’s safe to say that Tony is a veteran in the overseas basketball profession.
Lately, Tony has made his home in Uruguay, where he has spent the last few years making a name for himself, electrifying crowds with his bionic leg. I had to ask Tony: “Why Uruguay?”
“Uruguay is like home away from home,” Tony said. “It’s my favorite spot. All the teams are in the same city, so no long bus or plane rides.”
“I can definitely relate to that,” I said. “The furthest road game in Lebanon is an hour-and-a half away.”
As you get older, those plane and bus rides are torture on the knees and back.
Me: “Tony what is your favorite food you’ve tried overseas so far?”
Tony: “Empanadas in Venezuela. They are slightly different than how other South American countries make them. They’re made with cornmeal or something and you add this garlic sauce that brings the empanada together. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.”
Me: “Sounds delicious, but food aside, Tony, how do the fans overseas compare to the Lobo fans who spoiled us in college?”
Tony: “The places I have been have had some passionate fans. I have seen tears in the stands, to punches and kicks being thrown. Safe to say they get in their feelings at times, but the Pit was on another level. Eighteen thousand screaming fans not letting the players even hear. No experience like it!”
Me: “What about teammates? Any favorites overseas?”
Tony: “It’s a tie between you and B Mase (Brandon Mason, former NMSU player and current UNM coach). In Lebanon, y’all are family, others don’t compare. I dunno if you guys count though. B Mase was hurt and you and I only practiced for two weeks.”
Me: “That was an awesome experience for me having you as a teammate overseas. It was a highlight for me. Tell me about a funny or uncomfortable experience you had playing overseas.”
Me: “How could I forget that Tone? It was fun to go shoot guns and then later realize that area was a little shady to be in. Glad we can laugh about it now.”
Tony: “We couldn’t do that in Albuquerque!”
Me: “A great experience that I’ll always remember. Tony before I let you go, can you tell us about some of your best memories from school at UNM?”
Tony: “Just all of my friends and teammates at the Waffle House by campus. It was almost a ritual. If you were in my inner circle of loved ones, we broke bread at Waffle House at some point during my five years there.”
I can say with complete honesty that Tony Danridge is one the best teammates I’ve ever had. I consider him a brother and was lucky to have him as a roommate all four years in college. With that being said, though, if you ever find yourself on defense and Tony is charging down the middle, just step to the side, the bionic leg is no joke.”
Daniel Faris is a former Eldorado High and New Mexico Lobo basketball star who is playing professionally in Lebanon. Daniel will write occasional stories on former Lobo athletes, as well as keeping Enchantment Sports fans updated on his year with the Lebanese national team. For tips or comments to Daniel, please email EnchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.