Author's Note: I love meeting new people, regardless of whether more often than not I come away dissapointed. Friends say I have impossibly high expectations... I contend that I rather mind myself with quality and not quantity. I'm lazy, get bored easily and find it far sweeter to meet someone who challenges the limits of personal osmosis. The subject of this article is just that. Someone who may make me mildly obsessed for a decade. Still, it's worth noting that women are on a completely different scale - interactions based solely on aesthetics.
I am pleased to introduce you to Anthony Mason, Jr. Sir Anthony, Young Mase, whatever you may want to call him - the quick and dirty is that he's a Freshman at St. John's, playing in the Big East under Norm Roberts. He played high school ball in Memphis and was relatively well recruited, considered a top 25 small forward in last year's class. Peep his St. john's bio page and an article about him from the Red Storm student paper. Here he is in the skin:
If you've never read FreeDarko before and get dizzy easily I suggest you go read those links and skip ahead a few paragraphs. I'll even buffer the splendor by images that make no sense. For the gutless - if you see the man below in cartoon form, you've arrived at your destination.
The long of it is more disturbing, because extended details on Simba (as I call him) are scarce. It leaves much to the imagination, and around here those are fruitful parcels.
Honestly, I assume we can all agree that we expect little from the offspring of NBA stars gone by. The Abdul-Jabbars and Jeffrey Jordans of the world dissapointed us one time too many. No need to put hope there with so much else in the I Love This Game to care about.
Those that have followed in the footsteps well enough to make it to the league barely made an echo. Mike Dunleavy Sr. is too old and bald for us to remember him, too impotent to make Junior worth anything more than being a Dukie who I resent because he's always been coached by a pro. I'd like to think that in 2023, Thanksgiving Day at the Dunleavy House will still feature bickering about potential never met, a promise long past wasted.... if those blue bloods get together at all.
But I have no such bile and vile to spit on the Mason family, no such dark wishes to tempt my amusement. I wish both Senior and Junior only the best.
I am of the belief that both Anthony Masons will keep on mattering. A beautiful equilibrium will exist. The first because he was such a destructive presence, long established for our memories. And his offspring is a joyful tease - offering clues about the poison of his family line, indications of both the talent and trauma of being named Anthony Mason. But first a few notes on Senior.
Lately, the new class of FreeDarko has touched upon their boyhood crushes. Those players that meant so much to them, reflecting their turn from young watchers of the Association to grizzled commentators on the fringe of the Life. Similarly, Anthony Mason, Sr. occupies a special place in my heart - representing that year when I stopped being a fanboy simpleton occupied with only the success of my home team and its roster of scraps. The moment when I began to dive full force into the mana of the NBA.
At the risk of sounding tawdry I'll try to be brief. I initially loathed the man. He represented the undying passion of the Knicks in its most raw form. I didn't respect his talent, nor that of John Starks. I was hell bent on pedigree - Khalid Reeves, Billy Owens and other demagogues - not ready to embrace this bruising journeyman who appeared as a barbaric slap to the face of Jordan's league.
During the late 90s, I was able to watch from afar. Mason, Sr. was relegated to Charlotte and more important things were afoot at home. Riley had made his way down to Miami and I now began to appreciate his skill in finding jewels amongst coal. While during his Heat tenure he hasn't found another Starks or a Mason - the Ike Austins, Bruce Bowens and Vo Lenards of the world have been briefly sweet. Alas, today's Heat roster - saturated with talent - leaves no room for these dark horses to tread.
It was in the same days of the trade that brought King Anthony to Miami that I was lacing up my own hightops for the Masters of the Klondike Intramural Basketball Team in suburban Philadelphia. Bethlehem Shoals, Shoefly, Silverbird (er Shadowfax) and I had managed to seduce some ringers to play for our team.
As we advanced through the season and into the playoffs, we became enamored with our collection of talent. The team, aptly named The Masters of Style, began to dole out monikers for everyone on our roster. We pooled real life players from the early millenia Dallas Mavericks - it made sense since our point had Nash like hair and our four/five was tall and white enough to be Nowitzki-like... and so on...
But as those conversations got to yours truly, Shoefly was at a loss for Maverick comparison. My game was bruising, devoid of any real skill. Between my still-broad shoulders and my then-added college beer weight (now gone, I assure), I was a moving brick wall that lacked sense, compassion or feeling. Often, my court defness was complimented by pre-game shots of Patron or a low level narcotic. I was a tidy package of rage and pain.
Thus, it came of no surprise that the other Masters dubbed me Anthony Mason. I saw myself in him - teased that his actual skill was that which I could tap into with new, expensive sneakers and more exercise!
Now, let's rejoin those readers that couldn't stomach the excess...
Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed reading about the Red Storm. The rest of us have gotten a little personal.
Indeed, the facts on Anthony Mason, Jr. are scarce. We know little of him or his promise. But we do know much about his kin. I challenge you all to remember his father as best you can. Keep his spirit alive, because his was the rare soul that could incite the Yale Herald, that bastion of fair and balanced journalism, in April of 2002 to speak of him so ill... saying:
In 2002, Mason has changed very little, but he has successfully transformed the Bucks from a title-contending team to a group of dispassionate and disgruntled parts. Mason demands a touch on every possession, and his lack of speed prevents the team from using its run-and-gun offensive attack. The Bucks' offense, which last year relied on quick ball movement and unselfish perimeter play, now goes through Mason, and the team's average production has fallen from 101 to 97 points per game. Further, the surly power forward has created locker room dissension to the point that Bucks players have lost all confidence in one another. Mason achieved the unimaginable, tearing the heart from a team that thrived almost entirely on passion in its run to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals.
Mase, Sr. certainly always had that ability to get under someone's skin as he did to Herald writer Kenneth Hammond (assuredly a silly Bucks fan to blame their failures wholly on him). Yet, that quote's purpose here is to illustrate how Hammond's description of Mason is formed with such hate... this man had the uncanny ability to draw attention and scorn that seems almost a futuristic omen to today's era of FreeDarko. Mase had a power to spark. I doubt he drew the passion out of the Bucks (oxymoron), he probably just tipped the balance over a bit too much...
My new hope is that his son will bring the same flavor. Many of you must be asking yourselves, how can Anthony Mason, Jr. possibly measure up to the dark circles under his father's eyes? How could we not expect that the semen of a godly man with Samson like strength not be watered down if intermingled with that of a simply maiden? His was the loins that should have penetrated one of the Williams Sisters, even Sheryl Swoopes if she swung that way...
Granted I know nothing of Senior's bedfellow or Junior's teat feeder to judge her - but I had hoped that it be written in Scriptures that Anthony Mason, Sr. should have proliferated a new breed of muscle bound but fleet footed 3s with a comparably raw and talented athlete.
But it seems, that the lady was a more than suitable match. Because given what we know about his father and with the small bits that we have about Mase, Jr..... we find a delicious paradox of anger inherited and intelligence granted. Sugar AND spice.
Yes, first glance is that he's a Mama's boy. Junior is a self-proclaimed lover of Shakespeare's Macbeth and member of the National Honor Society, while his father was famously charged with third-degree rape of two teenage girls in 1998 and must be relatively illiterate.
But, this is no boy done too good. Delving further, his literary tastes and personal motto show a teenager with some contempt for the legacy given to him, refusing not to stake his own claim. But also a boy who grew up in awe of his father - imitating him on the court and in his personal hygiene patterns.
For where his father would carve messages into his scalp, his son went far further and has become a new trail blazer for what can be accomplished with a razor and cream.
He has already one-upped the other sons and daughters simply by the "M" gloriously carved into his right eyebrow. This is enough for me to call this kid NeXt. Of course, around these parts we have a lurid infatuation with the promise of the future. Granted, too, we don't know much about Simba's game - seeming right now a bit thin for his size and a bit to doting to predict a daily Mason-Family-psycho-session.
But if you believe that the little things are indicators of future greatness, then he has them in droves. This Young Prince has already been characterized as "long" and "lanky" - bringing "length", "athletic ability" and "perimeter shooting" to the Red Storm according to his Coach. We know that length is the en vogue characteristic of a great player - at least until we start to measure forward lean. Nevermind that M carved into his eyebrow.
Physique wise he must fill out to fulfill the greatness I see for him. Around 200 pounds now, I need him to be at least 275 to tear the backboards down and be all the monster his father was and more. We know the pedigree is there. The word BULK is written accross every A T C G building block in his strings of DNA.
How about game? Again, there are limits to what we know - but I will watch closely as this college season unfolds. Luckily, if mental acumen/fortitude is still seen as the great separator between superstar and journeyman in the NBA - Young Mase should be ripe for consistent praise and psycho analysis. Apart from the Oedipus Complex that must both torture and fuel this young man, a great comfort is his choosing to don the same college uni as Ron Artest.
Think 'Melo without the 'Melo - a lanky three who should bulk up and has the anger patterns to tear shit up. I hope he makes Papa proud. I'll be watching.