In 2000, the Seattle SuperSonics picked Mason in the first round NBA drafts; he was the 17th pick overall. But there was more to getting into professional basketball than that, Mason says, and he had a lot to learn.
“The whole process of getting into the NBA and getting an agent was foreign to me. It was much more of a business than I thought it would be,” he says.
Getting drafted to the NBA was one of the biggest transitions of Mason’s life, he says, and the next year proved to be just as altering when he became engaged. The couple bought their first home.
“My family had never really owned a house, so we were going through this whole process and lifestyle change,” Mason says.
Then, there was the 2001 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Mason participated in the contest as a rookie and won.
“It was nerve-wracking,” he says. “You’re talking 25,000 people or so in an arena, and the attention is just on you. There aren’t 10 guys on the floor – it’s just you.”
Mason says that because there was so much going on in his life at the time, he reacted by improvising dunks in the competition as he went along.
“I couldn’t believe that I won, but it was a phenomenal experience. How it looks on TV, how exciting and fun it seems? That’s absolutely how it is, except maybe 10 times that,” he says.
Mason continued to play for the SuperSonics until 2003, eventually moving to the Milwaukee Bucks then to the New Orleans Hornets and back again to Milwaukee before returning to Oklahoma to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2008-2009.
“It was an easy transition coming back to Oklahoma,” Mason says.
Back on old stomping grounds, he soon began to look in new directions.
“It was also a good time for me to continue to propel my art career and start to participate in more shows,” Mason says.