When he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2009, Mason felt it was time to make a different sort of move.
“It’s not a story I tell very often,” he says, “but there’s this song that I heard in church called ‘Moving Forward,’ and I kept hearing it over and over.
“I was driving around Sacramento every day, listening to that song over and over again,” he says. “So, one day I get back to my hotel – and I am just starting out on this team that wasn’t doing very well – and I called my wife and said, ‘I think I’m going to retire from basketball.’”
Mason says that his wife initially responded with surprise, but she supported his decision.
“I called my dad, and he thought I was losing my mind; and I called my agent, and he thought I was losing my mind. But the next week, I went [back] to Sacramento and we talked about it, and I retired,” Mason says. “It was about moving forward…and about being at home more. My daughter was getting to the point to where she was kicking and screaming when I left for a road trip.”
He turned to his “getaway:” His art. Thanks to business skills he learned while in the NBA, Mason felt ready to make art a full-time career.
“Business was evolving in my mind,” he says, “and I was really excited about that part of my life, just as much as [I had been about] basketball.”
The Masons chose to return to Oklahoma City – a city not renowned for its art scene. But Mason sees tremendous talent in his adopted home state.
“The scene [in OKC] is untapped. I was meeting with some guys yesterday who are unbelievable artists. Some of the best realists I have ever seen, and some of the best artists I have ever seen,” Mason says. “We talked about the artistic creativity and what we can do together.”
From a business standpoint, Oklahoma is rising.
“For us, we thought we had some ideas that were different than anything else anyone was doing at the time, so why not come to a place that we care about and love and try to incorporate those things as part of a foundation of a community? And that’s what we decided to do,” he says.