Ex-Poke Mason set to return to Oklahoma City to play for NBA team

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: August 14, 2008 at 1:15 am •  Published: August 14, 2008
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Desmond Mason's value extends beyond the boundaries of the basketball court.

It stretches from the locker room into the community and from the community to the Ford Center box office.

When Oklahoma City acquired Mason from the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in a three-team, six-player deal, it landed a player who is coveted as much for his benevolence off the court as he is for his willingness to get floor burns on it.

"It's a unique opportunity when you have the chance to add a basketball piece that fits equally as well from a community standpoint,” said Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti. "We feel strongly that we got better today not just on the floor but also off the floor, and when you can do that in a deal you have to walk away satisfied.”

Oklahoma City also acquired 13-year veteran forward Joe Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick, from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Going to Milwaukee from Oklahoma City are point guard Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin. The Cavs sent Damon Jones to the Bucks. Cleveland acquired point guard Mo Williams.

But it's Mason, the former Oklahoma State standout who was a fan favorite in Oklahoma City from 2005-07 as a member of the temporarily-displaced New Orleans Hornets from 2005-07, who is expected to have the biggest impact on the franchise.

In Mason, who will turn 31 in October, Oklahoma City gets a hard-nosed defender who fits the defensive philosophy Presti is sculpturing on the court. Off the court, Mason is the type of community-oriented person Presti seeks to dot his roster with.

"Desmond is an ambassador, no question about it,” said Mason's agent, Roger Montgomery. "He's a class act and a professional in every sense of the word.

"Desmond is one of those rare guys that really wants to see good take place and make a difference and have an impact on as many people as he can. And using basketball as that platform has been an awesome experience, and he's going to do that when he's done playing basketball.

"He's just a philanthropic person and an awesome person to know and to represent. And I think he's going to really, really help be a part of the face of the Oklahoma City team.”

Mason has career averages of 12.

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