The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Enter San Man

Anthony Mason Jr.’s journey to the NBA isn’t finished just yet.

Though the former St. John’s forward signed a 2-year deal with the Miami Heat and participated in the team’s Media Day last week, he must first make the team’s final roster for the start of the regular season for the contract to bear any weight.

Fitting, isn’t it?

Mason will always have to battle through adversity in order to make a name for himelf; making this team is just one more thing he’ll have to overcome. Ridding the burden of sharing his father’s name, bearing the weight of the St. John’s program as

the team’s superstar for five seasons, countless injuries—Mason’s battled through it all. Now he’s got to make a 15-man roster coached by the man under which his father won the Sixth Man of the Year award, fighting for any of 12 roster spots up for grabs after the names Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are penciled into the Miami lineup.

There’s obviously something

Miami finds attractive about Mason. Prior to this year’s NBA Draft, head coach Pat Riley invited him to multiple tryouts and put him on a loaded Mami summer league roster. In fall practices at the Elgin Air Force Base along the Florida panhandle, Mason has guarded the likes of Wade, James and swingman Mike Miller. Mason’s got the name, and Miami needs to see just how much he can live up to it. 

It wouldn’t shock me if he made the team. From a front office standpoint, Mason would come cheap enough, without much leverage to command more money than the league minimum.

Mason’s versatility on the floor would also make him an attractive bench player from strictly a basketball perspective as well, with the ability to guard the shooting guard and either forward position at a long 6-foot-7.

But these are just bullet points on a scouting report. If Mason makes the team, it won’t be for these reasons. If Mason makes the Miami Heat, it’ll be because he showed Riley and his staff that not only is he not the same player his father was, but he’s not even the same person.

He’ll make the team not because he reached the regular season without attaining a major injury, but that he did so while holding his own against the Heat’s superstars. He’ll have outplayed his own name, just as he’s done throughout his basketball career.

 Last year, I tried to find significance in Mason’s appearance on the MTV series True Life, which chronicled the forward’s journey back to the men’s basketball team after a torn tendon in his right foot sidelined him for the majority of the 2008-09 season.

Watching Mason bench pressing and doing agility drills at the team’s training facility in Taffner Field House, I assumed that he simply couldn’t wait to get back on the floor.

I was wrong.

Throughout the episode, Mason carries the look of someone doing what he has to in order to succeed. Yes, he’s rehabbing his injury, and the rehabilitation is necessary not just for basketball purposes, but for improving his quality of life.

But there’s something else there, too. Being Anthony Mason Jr. means there’s a much greater price to pay for success.

I didn’t see it then. I didn’t think he knew it then.

But watching him do those drills, reading about him guarding the game’s best player and meeting with soldiers on the base afterward, I know he understands.

It’s with Mason’s realization that comes his maturity. Realize it or not, St. John’s watched Anthony Mason Jr. grow up. He was with the program for five years of his life, from a wide-eyed freshman trying to break in with the team to grizzled fifth-year senior.

And while he probably just undershot his on-court expectations, Mason was successful in finding his place in the basketball world,

however unfortunate that place may be.

It’s with this self-actualization that will determine how far his NBA career goes. It’s a matter of just how much further Mason is willing to go, how much he is willing to pay to complete the journey.

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