Well I'm not going to be able to top Prada's tribute, but I still feel a sense of obligation to pay some kind of tribute to the River Walk Rainmaker. Did you see how easy that nickname transition was? Let's hope if Roger ever plays with another team, there's a major waterway nearby.
Anyways, during his two years as a Wizard, we've come to learn what Roger is all about. As he heads off to San Antonio, let's take a look back at he's taught us.
History - It's fitting that there's 5 pictures of Roger on this poster because he was a do it all player at Virginia. During his 3 years at UVA, the Cavs had some great moments, including an upset of the eventual 2001 national champion, Duke. He was the toast of the town during his 3 years in Charlottesville, but he didn't just excel in basketball:
Roger’s college coach has only good things to say about the player he says performs best in big game situations. "Roger’s a tremendous person– a class guy," says Virginia’s men’s Head Basketball Coach Pete Gillen. "He’s one of the top student-athletes I’ve been fortunate to coach." [Mason Jr. majored in urban planning and intends to finish his degree during the offseason]. "In addition," says Coach Gillen, "Roger helped us win 56 games over three years and go to postseason play each time."
Though Mason Jr., the oldest of five children, always excelled at sports– he led his high school basketball team to the Washington, D.C. city championship his junior year, played football his freshman year and ran track for three years– started playing the piano at age nine. As a freshman at Virginia, Roger played a duet during Midnight Madness activities with UVA hoops fan and recording artist Bruce Hornsby, who’s not a bad keyboard player himself.
"We played a little jazz," says Roger, who added that the super-talented Hornsby "made me sound good." And, last season, before a nationally televised game against Rutgers, Fox Sports asked Roger to record a piano introduction for their broadcast.
His outgoing personality probably helped calm any nerves. When asked to describe himself, he says he likes people, interacting with the guys on the team and getting to know different personalities and cultures.
Career Development - Roger ended up being drafted by the Bulls in the second round with the 30th overall pick, being drafted behind such legends as Jiri Welsch, Curtis Borchardt, Qyntel Woods, Casey Jacobson, Chris Jefferies, Steve Logan, and the immortal Jared Jeffries.
It looked like Roger was set to be another player in Bulls' young core that they could build around. However, things got off on the wrong foot in Chi-town when Roger injured his shoulder before his first game. The injury robbed Roger of most of his rookie season, limiting him to 17 games in his rookie season. Even once he got healthy, he never really got into the flow with the Bulls, only playing in 3 games before being dealt to Toronto for Rick Brunson.
Math - Roger's numbers went up across the board after his trade to Toronto. After playing in only 20 games with the Bulls, Roger played in 23 games with the Raptors during his short stint there. He looked like he was ready to have his breakout season coming into his third year, but again injuries kept him from doing that. A sprained left ankle hindered him at the start of the season and led to him being released by the Raptors early in the season.
Geography - With no NBA team willing to take a chance on him, Roger took his game overseas, signing a deal to play with a Greek team, Olympiacos. During the year he spent there and the next season when he signed with Hapoel Jerusalem, he rediscovered the jumper that he'd lost while riding the pine in the NBA. As he threw down dunks and hit daggers he restored his confidence, he felt that he was ready for another shot at the NBA and his hometown team was willing to give it to him.
Anatomy - Obviously, we all know what happened from there. Roger comes to Washington and develops into solid shooter, nice guy off of the bench, and occasionally took on the role of enforcer.
...or something like that. What you might not know about is his dedication to fighting kidney disease. When he was only 11, Roger's father died from the disease and since then he's been relentless in trying to increase people's awareness about the disease. At the end of the month he'll be hosting a celebrity bowling event to help raise money for National Kidney Foundation.
We've learned a lot about Roger over the last two years, but the one thing that's always going to stick out is how genuine he is. He doesn't do the all the people pleasing stuff for show, he's just one of the truly good guys out there. Throughout all the struggles in his life, he's found a way to be successful, and as he moves forward, I'm 100% confident that he'll continue to do so.