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Basketball Fan
07-15-2011, 10:27 AM
Desmond Mason goes from slam dunks to silver screen





FORMER OKLAHOMA State basketball player Desmond Mason once won the NBA's slam dunk contest. Now he's lost his sanity, sort of.

Mason said he has been cast to play a resident of an insane asylum in a movie being filmed in Oklahoma.

"Just Crazy Enough" is a family-friendly comedy about identical twins separated at birth. According to the film's website (tulsaworld.com/justcrazyenough ), one twin becomes a prominent psychiatrist and the other a lifelong mental patient. The psychiatrist ends up swapping places with a twin he knows nothing about.

Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Chris Kattan will play the lead role and is adding to what Mason says is a funny script. Tweeted Kattan on July 3: "I was waiting for a physical comedy vehicle like this for a loooong time! Thanks Oklahoma and timing and universe."

Mason described his role as a "pretty big part." He said his character speaks only in cliches and won't hold a normal conversation with anyone.

"Throughout the course of the movie, they are asking me a bunch of questions and we are going through a lot of stuff and I am answering with random cliches that mean nothing," he said.

Mason is excited - and intimidated - by his first acting job aside from commercials. Basketball players get accused of acting if they "flop" while trying to draw offensive fouls, but Mason contends he doesn't have that kind of acting experience.

"I got (accused) a couple of times," he said. "But I would always go to the (opposing) coach and say 'look, I took a solid shot in the chest.' I had no problem telling a ref or a coach that because I didn't flop. I wasn't a flopper. Coach (Eddie) Sutton didn't allow that anyway."

How did a newcomer to acting snare a film role?

Mason, who moonlighted as an artist during his 10-year NBA career, was asked to design an award for the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City.

The festival's executive director, Lance McDaniel, is a filmmaker whose most eye-catching credit is working as an assistant on "Million Dollar Baby," which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2004.

McDaniel, who is directing "Just Crazy Enough" and is sharing writer/producer duties with Sean Lynch, called Mason and made a pitch that went something like this: "I've got a spot in a movie. We think you would really fit. I'm sending you the script."

And that's how a former hoops star (Mason helped OSU to an Elite Eight appearance in 2000) graduated from artist to performance artist.

Mason's NBA career ended in 2010 and he settled in Oklahoma City with wife Andrea (a former OSU soccer player) and their two kids. Daughter Jada will soon turn 6, and son Elijah will soon turn 2.

The Masons own an exercise studio - barre3 - in Oklahoma City and, with expansion in mind, Andrea is scouting Tulsa for a location.

Desmond said he has an art studio in Oklahoma City and he may open a gallery. In June, 12 of his paintings were on display at the OSU Foundation in Stillwater.

"I cannot think of an ambassador for Oklahoma State University who is more beloved and more appreciated than Desmond Mason," OSU president Burns Hargis said in a press release when the display opened. "Obviously he represented us well on the court, but now people are discovering he is an individual with many talents."

How many talents?

"The guy is, like, good at everything, which is kind of humiliating, really," said ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, who roomed with Mason when they were sophomores and recalled Mason playing pool well enough to empty the pockets of Cowboy football players.

Mason said he has been painting and drawing since he was 13. When he got to OSU, he said his interest in art "took off" because he was in classrooms with very good teachers.

At first, Mason was antsy about putting his work in front of the public. Before his third pro season, he staged an art show for charity and a Chicago newspaper critic gave him a positive review.

"From there, it elevated," Mason said. "It went from 40 people at a show to my last show here in December had 600 people and I sold 61 pieces in two hours."

It also raised $144,000 for charity. Mason said all proceeds from his art are donated to charity. He's simultaneously helping others and helping himself because art is to Mason what music was to Wayman Tisdale.

"In the basketball world and that lifestyle, you need that release," Mason said.

"You need to be able to get away from the stress and strain of playing and practicing and camps and bad games and not letting your head get too big in big games.

"You need something that keeps you a little balanced, and the arts are a big part of that, I think, for everybody. All players either love music or love drawing or love reading or writing."

Now, for the sake of a movie, Mason will pretend to be less than balanced.

"I'm on my way toward a Van Gogh," he joked. "Before you know it, I'll be cutting my ear off."
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/OSU/article.aspx?subjectid=93&articleid=20110711_93_B1_CUTLIN66513