When the men’s basketball team announced that Anthony Mason, Jr. would undergo season-ending foot surgery last November, the news came with one very enticing detail.
Throughout his rehabilitation, Mase would be followed by MTV cameras for a forthcoming episode of the network’s True Life series.
That episode aired September 19, as Red Storm hoops fans gathered around their television sets with wide eyes trying to piece together the aftermath of the second straight year in which an injury ended the superstar’s season.
And they watched. And they waited.
And those same fans saw a lengthy storyline about a teenage hockey sensation from Indianapolis whose career was cut short by a paralyzing spinal cord injury.
They saw the gut-wrenching tale unfold as the boy struggled to move his fingers, how his parents remodeled their home to accommodate wheelchair service and the ugly frustration that emerged when his father tried to lift him out of the chair and into bed at night.
And they watched. And they waited.
And those same fans saw another pretty extensive tale about a standout high school basketball player from Staten Island who lost her junior season due to a knee injury. They watched as she screamed her team to victory from the bench, disobeyed doctor’s orders and played ping pong at a team party, and the disappointment that ensued when she realized that her chances of a roster spot on the college level might not come from a scholarship, but from a walk-on tryout.
They watched a meeting between Mase and Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts discuss the forward’s leadership going into the 2009-10 season, the same clichéd inspirational speech sports fans have seen from every sports movie when the team’s superstar needs a little bit of a pep talk.
They were even witness to the acting debut of Athletic Communications assistant Tim Brown, who assisted Mase early in his rehab, taking him to doctor’s offices and physical therapy sessions.
But, those looking for a juicy nugget of news were hard-pressed to find a particularly memorable scene from Mase’s storyline – that is, of course, after the barbershop scene, where a freshly-cut Mase ogles his barber’s handiwork in the mirror while Mase senior, former NBA Sixth Man Award winner with the New York Knicks,stresses the importance of the weight room toward his son’s dreams of NBA stardom.
But there were no major obstacles for Mase to overcome. There seemed to be no forks in the road. There were no setbacks or backlash or anything that compromised Mase from getting back to his Red Storm teammates as quickly as possible with as little pain as possible. If there were, MTV certainly didn’t show it.
That’s because there wasn’t anything in that True Life episode Red Storm fans didn’t already know.
Anthony Mason, Jr. is a charismatic, at times goofy, college kid with ball on the brain all the time. It’s the reason he has become so revered to Red Storm basketball fans.
He didn’t need to bench press or run agility drills in the athletics fitness center to get back in shape, he just needed to chase a basketball danging from a fishing pole while running on a treadmill.
The look of joy in Mase’s face when he set foot on the practice court for the first time, driving to the hoop against the dummy defense of point guard Malik Boothe, is the look that says he is back to doing what he loves doing the most.
It was a good thing cameras were rolling then.