Jefferson Mason is a 28 year old 198cm guard from Crystal Minnesota that has decided to hang up his sneakers and retire from professional basketball.He played his first three seasons of college ball at N.Colorado (NCAA) playing a total of 58 NCAA games. He then played at Minnesota State-Mankato (NCAA2) from 2009-2011 and in his senior year he played 33 games: 19.2ppg, 8.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2spg, FG%: 55.5, 3FG%: 30.6, FT%: 70.0. He started his professional basketball career in Germany for the Webmoebel Baskets Paderborn (Germany-Pro A) playing 31 games: 17.1ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 65.8%. In the 2012-2013 season he played for Frisco Texas Legends (D-League): 1 game: 2pts, 2rbs, in Dec.’12 moved to CSU Atlassib Sibiu (Romania-Division A), left in Dec.’12: 4 games: 8.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, in Jan.’13 signed at Al-Tadamoun (Iraq-D1). In the 2013-2014 season he played for AB Contern (Luxembourg-Total League) playing 29 games averaging 19.6ppg, 10.9rpg, 1.9apg, Steals-5(1.8spg), FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 21.2%, FT: 56.0%. His last professional season was with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau (Germany-ProB) playing 4 games averaging 10.8ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg. He spoke to German Hoops about his basketball career.
Jefferson thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am currently living in Minneapolis, MN and my summer has been great. I have been able to stay active playing basketball in the Pro Am League here in Minneapolis this summer. I have also been busy training and also working for Dr. Dish!
My first thought was when you contacted me saying you had officially retired from professional basketball was “boy your still so young”. Then I looked closer and saw your last professional game was in October 2014. Did you still have thoughts the last two years to continue to play the game that you love?
Yes you are correct, I am young and I did decide to retire young. I think that it was something that came out of nowhere for me, especially since I am young and in my prime. For me basketball was always a gateway to moving forward and opening up opportunities. I was fortunate enough to receive several opportunities here in Minneapolis the past 2 years. One being the opportunity to work at Dr. Dish and really stand behind something I believe in!
Now you have made it official that you will step down from the game after only parts of four seasons. Was this a difficult decision for you to make or was the fact that life had gone on for you with new challenges in your life make your decision easier?
I think that since I’m still heavily involved in basketball, it has allowed me to gracefully separate myself from the thrill and excitement of being a professional basketball player. I am able now to help kids reach the same dream of becoming a college and pro basketball player through Dr. Dish and youth training.
You told me in an interview in 2012 that you would love to play the game as long as your body allows you to? Could you still have been able to have played into your 30´s?
Yes! I am actually in some ways more athletic than I was several years ago. I’ve always been mentally sharp and blessed to stay healthy my entire career. It was always a dream to play until I could no more, but I’ve always believed family comes before self-ambition. Having received an incredible job offer, in the basketball world, being able to stay home with my family, was the ultimate turning point for myself.
Our second interview was in October 2014 after a game in Langen where you went 3/10 from the free throw line with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau. Do you remember that performance? It was one of your last games as a professional as a few weeks later you were gone
I remember speaking with you before and after that game. I can definitely say it wasn’t my best performance, but at that point in my career I understood that I couldn’t be perfect. I knew that getting wins was the most important thing, so I always tried to work hard and make my teammates better even if shots weren’t falling. My very last play, in my last game, was a dunk and I think that was a great way to go out since that was my specialty!
In 4 games with Hanau you had very solid stats averaging 10.8ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg. Was there something in this short experience that made you dislike the game or not have that desire anymore. You never played professionally again after that?
To some those may be impressive stats, but for me and my skill set it was below average. Leaving Hanau was tough because it was the first time in my career I felt I wasn’t able to show my full potential as a player. I loved the city, my teammates, and the management, so it was tough leaving Hanau. Although this was tough, it really had no impact on my decision to stop playing basketball professionally.
Was that the end how you wanted it at that time? Weren´t teams not biting anymore or as you said in that interview, the right fit never came again to make you want to sign again with a new team?
When I finished at Hanau I had many teams contact me for my services. At the time, I didn’t want to rush into a bad decision and I really wanted to take a few weeks to think about my options. I declined multiple offers and instead of going directly to another team, I decided to head to America and regroup and refocus. While in the states, I was able to speak with my wife about what we wanted for our future. As the days turned into weeks, I realized that basketball wasn’t the only thing I was born to do. I relied heavily on my faith and when I was offered opportunities to work in the basketball realm, I knew it was my next step in life!
You had a very short basketball career, but having played in Germany, D-league, Romania, Luxemburg and Iraq, could one say that it was a sweet career even if it wasn´t long?
Playing 4 years is a short career on the professional side of things, but I have been playing basketball since I was a kid. Majority of my life has been centered around the game and it still is. You could say I’m just on the other side of things now! I was blessed with the perfect situation in Germany my rookie year. I played with several Americans I knew, and Coach Thomas Glasauer did an amazing job of maximizing my strengths and helping me develop my weaknesses as a player. We exceeded expectations by far that year and I had an abundance of opportunity after that. Spending time in the preseason working out with the MN Timberwolves the following year showed me that I could compete at the highest level. This led me to get drafted in the D-League by the Dallas Mavericks. That experience on top of playing in Romania, really showed me the business aspect of the game. I made lifetime friends playing in the middle east and I experienced a whole new world living there for 4 months!
As a rookie you played for the Webmoebel Baskets Paderborn (Germany-ProA) playing 31 games: 17.1ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 65.8%. Do you feel like you could have that lingering question in your mind forever what could have been had a BBL team given me the chance?
I definitely thought after my rookie season in Paderborn I would have had a few offers to play in the BBL. When team’s interest never developed into actual offers I was disappointed but motivated. Having not received that big contract right off the bat led me to my workouts with the Timberwolves and being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks D-League team. The NBA is the highest level, so being able to show people I could excel was self-gratifying to say the least.
What will you remember most from your rookie season where you played with Americans Nick Freer, Justin Stommes and Jamar Diggs? Were you able to form lasting friendships with them?
I will always remember how hard we pushed each other and the intense workouts we had. Nick Freer was an amazing teammate and extremely unselfish. He always put the team first and was one of the hardest workers I ever played with/against. Justin Stommes and Jamar Diggs are from Minnesota so we all knew each other and had played against each other in high school. It´s rare you play with guys from high school at the professional level and we definitely took advantage of the opportunity. I can remember the amazing nights we had following big wins and the unpredictable road trips we took together. I still stay in touch with those guys to this day and they are both really good friends of mine. The Pro-am league I play here in Minnesota, was started by Jamar Diggs and we play on the same team. It’s awesome to still be able to compete with those guys.
Talk a little about the highlights in your professional career? You reached the semi-finals in Luxemburg and played in Iraq which is worth a few unforgettable stories.
Playing in Paderborn finishing 3rd in the standings my rookie year was a huge accomplishment because we were preseason projected to finish basically last. When I played in Luxembourg it was a similar situation in which we were picked to finish at the bottom and ended up reaching the semi-finals that year. Luxembourg is a beautiful country and my teammates that year really made my wife and I feel welcome. I traveled all over Europe that year with several of my teammates and made memories that will last a lifetime. I spent most of my time in Kurdistan when I played for Al Tadamoun in the Middle East. That area was surprisingly beautiful and the people were extremely kind and generous. My first American teammate there had a compound fracture which caused his bone to come through his skin. I remember running up to him after he made the basket and fell to the floor, and telling him to get up. That is when I saw the bone and I almost passed out. The game literally stopped and I went with him to the nearest doctor which wasn’t at a hospital. The doctor there tried to push the bone back into his skin and had me helping out by holding his leg! I can remember how chaotic the situation was and I can remember saying that he needed meds immediately and that we needed to go to a hospital right away. He ended up having surgery and recovered just fine, but the uncertainty of the situation, combined with the language barrier made it a memory that will stick with me forever!
Your professional basketball career was short, but what will you always appreciate most about having had the opportunity to play the game you love something so many guys dream about doing?
I will always appreciate the people who believed in me. Coaches, managers, teammates and people in the cities I played for. People invested time and money into me, because they believed I could help them win and bring excitement. So many great players never get the opportunity to play professionally and I was able to have a great 4 years. The game of basketball has helped me reach out to the youth and help motivate the younger generation. Basketball has giving me the expertise to work for Dr. Dish now. My knowledge and skills allow me to utilize Dr. Dish shooting machines to help people of all ages and athletic abilities become better basketball players and lead healthy lifestyles. Doing this was also a dream of mine, so I am able to continue to live my dream after my professional career ended.
How would you like to have fans remember Jefferson Mason the basketball player and person?
I would like the fans to remember my high flying dunks and the excitement that I brought to each and every game. I want fans to remember my dedication and hard work I showed on the court. I tried my best to make every fan feel special and smile as much as I could. Playing professionally was an honor and blessing I never took for granted. I hope my former teammates have fond memories of me and I hope the young players in the countries I played for, were motivated by my on court play and personality.
Who was the toughest player that you battled against at any level that you ever played at?
I played against many tough players throughout my college and pro career. One of the toughest guys I went up was against Rodney Stuckey of the Indiana Pacers. When I was a freshman in college we played against him twice and he was a nightmare on the offensive side of the ball. He could post up smaller guards with his size and easily take bigger guards/forwards off the dribble. His passing and physical tools were overlooked often because of his scoring ability. He was one guy that took it to me when we matched up!
You have made the transition from professional player to the real world as you are a youth trainer for the Minnesota Timberwolves and also work in Business development for a company called Dr. Dish. How has it been juggling these two tasks?
My transition into the real world has been easy for me because both jobs involve basketball which I’m very confident in. Dr. Dish is something I really believe in because it gives the coaches and parents the ability to help their players become better shooters, post players, ball-handlers, and overall athletes on the basketball court! Also working and youth training for an NBA organization opens new opportunities to learn the game from people at the highest level.
You work with kids on the basketball court. Are there any differences to how it was when you were a kid playing basketball to kids today in terms of work ethic and passion for the game?
I believe that kids these days have all the opportunity in the world to be seen by college and professional coaches. You tube, Facebook and other social media networks allow kids to learn quicker and also showcase themselves on a national platform. Dr. Dish for example, is a shooting machine that wasn’t around when I was growing up. The technology and abilities Dr. Dish shooting machines have, help players reach their potential quicker and efficiently. It helps players become accountable and maximizes training on all levels. I believe passion exponentially grows when a new opportunity to get better, like Dr. Dish, is available. Kids these days are working harder than ever to achieve their goals and when training tools like Dr. Dish shooting machines are available, it helps kids get to their goals faster!
Can the Minnesota Timberwolves rebound from their 29-53 record last season. The club is very young and talented and NBA legend Kevin Garnett is back for another season to help the young players.
I had an opportunity the past 2 summers to workout with many of the Timberwolves players and I can personally tell you that these guys are hungry and want to win. They have an incredible core that is led by an amazing vet in KG and coach in Tom Thibodeau. Zach Lavine has our Dr. Dish All Star shooting machine and recently posted a video of him working out with it in his backyard at his home in Washington. That is just one example of how dedicated these guys are to getting better! I believe this year the hard work will pay in the win column for them!
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 NBA legends would you have as the heads?
This is tough but I’d say Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar!
Lebron finally won his first NBA title with the Cavs. Where does this new title place him in the all-time greatest ranking of players?
I believe LeBron James is already a top 10 player of all time. If he wins a few more championships, and continues to play at a high level, then he would be in my top 2 players of all time.
What was the last movie that you saw?
My favorite and last movie I saw was The Book of Eli. I love Denzel Washington as an actor and he did an incredible job in this movie!
Thanks Jefferson for the chat. For anyone that wants to check out what Jefferson is doing you can check out https://drdishbasketball.com