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Collected wisdom: Desmond Mason, former OSU and Thunder forward

Former Oklahoma State and Oklahoma City Thunder forward's current passion is art.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 15, 2012

photo - Artist and former NBA player Desmond Mason poses for a photo on Thursday , Dec. 6, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Artist and former NBA player Desmond Mason poses for a photo on Thursday , Dec. 6, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Former Oklahoma State and Oklahoma City Thunder forward

Age: 35

Residence: Oklahoma City

Desmond Mason is known to the sports world as a 10-year NBA veteran, a high riser, a dunk master. But in the two-plus years since he retired from basketball, he has made a name in an extremely different world.


Within the past year, the Waxahachie, Texas, native has done a show in Mexico and is planning a tour through Asia in 2013. Last weekend, he hosted his annual art show with 40 of his own original paintings. The invitation-only party benefitted Allied Arts and other charities in his adopted hometown of Oklahoma City.

I started doing this show eight years ago. I've done it in Seattle and Milwaukee and here on a few different occasions. This year, I think it's my best exhibit. It's called, “This is Me.” It's addressing what I'm really all about, life after basketball, what makes me tick.

I'm a little bit different. I want people to see that. I don't want people to box me in as an athlete.

I always felt that I was different. I hung around with different people. I was always very artsy, a little outside of the box. I would go get a rock and scrape on the concrete of the basketball court when there was nobody there after working out.

It was an outlet.

The neighborhood I grew up in, the things me and all my friends dealt with on a daily basis, to stay out of trouble, you had to have some type of outlet. It took me away from what was happening in every day life, just as sports did.

It was a great counterbalance to basketball. It's hard practices, it's rigorous, there's a lot of travel as I got older. (Art) gave me the ability to release all those emotions, all that tension, all that stress and strain that I had in my body and on my mind onto the canvas and just kind of let it go.

I told my agent when I was drafted, “At 35, whether I'm having a great career or not-so-great career, if I'm still playing the game, I'll retire.” And it happened at 33. But it happened on my terms.

When I was in Sacramento, I'm walking around with my son and spending time with my daughter. We're in a hotel trying to figure out if we're gonna stay there or not. I just kept hearing this song over and over and over. It was called “Moving Forward.” I literally called my wife and said, “I think I'm retiring from basketball.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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