I caught up with Desmond Mason this evening and he was in good spirits. He is scheduled for minor arthroscopic knee surgery early Friday morning and is eager to get this rehab process behind him and make a full recovery and return to full basketball activity this summer. Mason, who’s in the final year of his contract, said he hopes he hasn’t played his final game in a Thunder uniform and will use these final 36 games to continue to be an veteran and emotional leader.
Q: What has the medical staff told you about the injury?
A: Not a lot changed from last night. All the major ligaments were stable and strong. There was no damage to any of the ligaments, my MCL, PCL, ACL, none of those were an issue which was fortunate. And there’s not any serious damage. Also what we found out in the MRI this morning is that there is going to be some bone bruising just because of the way the bones hit each other. A little bit of cartilage chipped off. So we have to go in and do minor arthroscopic knee surgery just to remove those bone chips so it would heal the right way.
Q: What kind of recovery time are you facing?
A: (The doctor) said the reason for it pretty much being season-ending is because it’s a six-to-eight week recovery and there’s 10 weeks left in the season. And no one really saw a huge purpose in coming back for two weeks. My goal is to get it done ASAP so I told them I wanted to get it done tomorrow.
Q: What is the recovery process like?
A: From what they told me I’ll be on crutches for a little bit so everything can heal itself up and I won’t have continuous swelling. And then after that it’s kind of strengthening up the quad muscles again and strengthening up the hamstring, basically just strengthening those muscles around that knee area again.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out the diagnosis?
A: I was disappointed. When I was with the Hornets I got that elbow in the face. It was only seven games left in the season but I had played every game up until that point. It was unfortunate and I was upset just missing those last seven games that season. We weren’t in a great position to make a huge playoff run but we were playing some good basketball. So when I heard that today, I was disappointed and I was disappointed just for the fact that we’re starting to play well. And I think that starting unit was really starting to build some trust in each other. And over this last month we had really jelled and developed a bond on and off the floor.
Q: A lot of your game is based on athleticism. How much do you think this injury will hamper what you’re capable of doing when you get back?
A: I don’t think it will at all. When I was here with the Hornets I hyper-extended the other knee. My left leg. I’m a one leg jumper for the most part and so that’s my jumping leg, my left leg. It was a similar injury. Marc Jackson took a charge and fell back into my knee. And you’re talking about a heavier guy. But it was like three weeks of rehab and I was back on the floor again. With this, the difference is they just have to go in and remove some of those chips floating around so the recovery process can happen the exact same way as the last one did. If you go in and do your treatment right and your recovery right, you should have no problems.
Q: Can you take me through the play? Do you remember the details of that exact moment?
A: I remember it. Lowry drives to the basket and it was somebody on his left side and I was kind of trailing him on his right side. He jumped up to make a layup and he didn’t see me behind him. And so I blocked a shot from behind him. As I blocked the shot he was falling backwards trying to dodge the other defender. But he fell back into me. And I felt it when he hit my knee so I was kind of able to pull my foot from under him a little bit and fell overtop of him.
Q: How much will you stay involved with the team, whether it’s sitting on the bench during games or attending practices?
A: I’ll be at all the practices. I’ll be at all the games when I’m able to kind of get up and going a little bit. As soon as the doctor releases me to hop on the plane and travel with the team I’ll be traveling with the team. I might even have the opportunity to make that L.A.-Portland. I talked to coach today and the one thing he wanted me to do was be solid at talking to the players and being involved in the game and being an emotional leader and a veteran to the young guys. That’s what I told him I will continue to do until I can get back on the floor.
Q: Will we still see you in the community and at events interacting and endearing yourself to the fans?
A: No question. Our players have a lot of demands with games and practices. The unfortunate part is I don’t have the opportunity to get out there and play and help my teammates in this nice stretch of basketball we’re playing right now. But the flip side of that is I have free time outside of games. So that gives me an opportunity to get out more in the community and do more things from that standpoint. That’s kind of what I do and what I’ve built my reputation on, being involved in the communities I’ve played in. Now I have a little bit more time to do that.
Q: Obviously you’re in the final year of your contract. Have we seen Desmond Mason play his last game in a Thunder uniform?
A: I would definitely hope not. I voiced my feelings on that at the beginning of the season since media day. With the reputation that I have here and the feelings I have for the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City in general it wouldn’t bother me one bit to have the opportunity to finish my career playing here. Obviously that’s a decision we sit and talk about post season. But that’s my feeling on that.
But regardless of if it’s here or wherever, I’m definitely going to be playing basketball at 100 percent next season and doing some of the same things I’m able to do this year and providing that leadership to the team. Hopefully it’s here in Oklahoma City with the young guys that I’m starting to develop a relationship with and some of the veterans that we have here. If you look at what we’ve gotten done over the last month I think you kind of see the light on the other side of the mountain. But I think next year is going to be even better so that’s what I’m looking forward to.