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News » Mason loving the NBA life

Mason loving the NBA life

Mason loving the NBA life
Wednesday night brought another loss for the Thunder, but forward Desmond Mason did what he always does during pre-game.

He smiled and waved at kids while stretching. He shadowboxed members of the starting lineup before they took the floor. He pounded fists with everyone on the front row near the Thunder bench - first with fans, then his coaches, then his teammates.

During the game, he smiled and shouted words of encouragement.

The struggling Thunder was about to play visiting Memphis, and Mason seemed on top of the world rather than in the Northwest Division basement.

You'd have thought the Thunder was 20-2, not the other way around.

Through all the pain and suffering of this franchise's inauspicious inauguration, Mason has managed to find a smile and pleasant demeanor.

This is no easy task for a man who hates to lose.

"I take losses hard," Mason said. "Losing hurts me, a lot."

Perhaps the best way to explain Mason's attitude is to say "he gets it."

"Fan appreciation is what drives this league," Mason said. "If there's nobody in the seats, this league doesn't survive."

Part of this appreciation comes from Mason's playing days at Oklahoma State.

"Playing under coach (Eddie) Sutton, you understanding not only the right way to play the game, but also to love the game," Mason said. "Coach enjoyed being a coach, and that helped me enjoy being a player."

More appreciation comes from being back in Oklahoma for a third stint after previously playing for the Cowboys and the displaced Hornets.

Take a secret poll and pump truth serum into Thunder players, and Mason might be the only player truly happy to be here.

"It takes time," Mason said. "I was like that in Milwaukee. When I got traded, I was like, 'I'm living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.' But once my wife and I got there, we absolutely loved that place, the people, the fans. They're very similar to Oklahoma City, down to earth, nothing fake about them. They're humble, everyday people."

Mason hopes his upbeat mentality is contagious with teammates, but it's OK if it's not.

"Guys show their emotions in different ways," Mason said. "Everybody's not the same. That's just me. That's my character."

Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks said Mason's attitude is "very valuable. Desmond is a pro. He's a real player. He loves to compete. He has a very competitive spirit about him. Players see it, and they appreciate it. You need guys who want to work every day, particularly when you don't have a great start (to the season).

"It's easy to show spirit when you're rolling, taking the lead, or dominating a game. Obviously, we're not doing that. To have Desmond out there the way he's cheering on teammates and leaving it on the floor, it's great for our young guys."

Mason doesn't behave this way to impress the big crowds inside the Ford Center.

"I do this at the Y," Mason said. "This is who I am."

Sadly, this is who the Thunder is: It turned a 21-point first-half lead into a 108-102 loss against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Mason contributed 10 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 24 minutes and was named Thunder player of the game.

The Thunder is now 2-21, despite what Mason's body language suggests.

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 9-11 a.m. on New JOX 930 (AM).

spart-Mason3C1228867200 CHRIS LANDSBERGER

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 13, 2008


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