Desmond Mason: Nobody will buy my art just because I played for Seattle Sonics

desmond-mason-artworkFormer NBA player Desmond Mason has taken quite an unexpected path after his basketball career – that is for those, who only knew him as a player who won the 2001 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

Today, Mason is known in the art community, where he uses his skills to raise money for charity. At last December’s annual Desmond Mason Art Show, he sold his own 61 pieces in two hours, generating $144,000 for local charities.

In June, he exhibited 12 paintings in the Oklahoma State University Foundation’s Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery. Mason, who retired from the NBA in 2009, paints with acrylics, latex, oils and watercolors and also makes ceramics.

“Some people think you should focus on one style, but I don’t like to dial into a series,” Mason said. “My emotions are all over the place, so my style changes all the time. I use a lot of mediums, a lot of subject matters and a lot of different colors.”

Mason gave  credit to the Oklahoma State University, which, according to him, gave him opportunity to play basketball and grow ability to play in the NBA.

“It also gave me the opportunity to really learn about art,” Mason said.

Mason’s love of art began when he was 13, when he made his first ceramic. He planned to be an art teacher, which is why he majored in studio art. NCAA rules prevented him from selling his work while he was a student.

“Most people never really knew I was that into art work,” he said. “Now they can come see what I do.”

Mason, a former 2000 Seattle Supersonics draft pick has recently opened a solo show of abstract paintings at Axis Gallery in Seattle on September. 19.

“I understand what basketball gave me the opportunity to do,” Mason told the Seattle Times. “It gave me a platform to display my art on a high level. But no one is going to buy a painting from Desmond Mason for $15,000 just because he played for the Seattle Sonics and Milwaukee Bucks. There’s a limit. Now, it’s not so much about me playing basketball. It’s more about they love what they’re looking at.”

Below are some of Desmond Mason’s art works:



Mason’s artistic debut was in September 2004 at McCaw Hall. Mason, still bitter about the Sonics trading him and Gary Payton to Milwaukee for Ray Allen, sold about five of the 15 pieces for a few hundred dollars each.

After Mason’s debut, his next seven shows sold out, making his retirement from the NBA in 2009 a smooth transition. His family of four is based in Oklahoma City, and he holds an average of eight exhibitions annually that span the globe.

Unlike his debut in 2004, returning to Seattle and seeing his work sell for $4,000 to $10,000 assures Mason he’s on the right path.

Mason played 10 seasons in the NBA, for Seattle Sonics, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orlean Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings.

Mason averaged career high 17.2 ppg for Milwaukee in 2004-05 season. Overall he played in 643 NBA games (started 385), averaging 12.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg in 30.5 mpg.


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