This is about as close as it gets to a Mason origin story.
After 16 years on the job, Bad Boys era public address announcer Ken Calvert called it quits following the 2000-01 regular season. A fan favorite with a slew of signature calls (perhaps none more memorable than his rendition of “Joe Duuuuuuuumars”), Calvert left some sizable shoes to fill.
Enter John Mason.
A local radio personality prior to taking the gig in Auburn Hills, Mason’s Palace debut was only slightly overshadowed by the return of Michael Jordan, who was making his first appearance in a Wizards uniform since formally announcing his second comeback earlier in the month.
As for Mason’s first starting lineup introductions, one can tell the foundation was being set, but listening to him play it safe with an uncharacteristically low key presentation comes off a little peculiar to those who’d come to know his work as the years progressed:
I’ll fully admit, as someone who believes in tradition and fights change to the death, I wasn’t a believer at the outset. My reaction to Mason’s manual reverb – his first shot at “B-B-B-Ben Wallace” – left me feeling as uncomfortable as the moment I realized the Tom Gores regime had replaced Europe’s “Final Countdown” with a generic slate of dubstep (I wish I was joking).
Alas, that 2002 club was a winner, and winning tends to make everything better. That season also marked the return of the red, white, & blue, the true emergence of Ben Wallace, and the team’s first division title in over a decade. So by the time the postseason hit, the crowd had bought in, Mason had bought in, and suddenly, the intro began to click:
Two years later, as the Pistons closed in on their third NBA title in franchise history, Mason’s intro hit its apex, in all its flame-shooting, whistle blowing, alliterative glory:
Today, Mason has achieved local folk hero status. The team’s rally cry, a drawn out bellowing of “Detroit Basketball!” was Mason’s brainchild, serving as the modern update to Calvert’s classic Dumars call.
Still on the job 14 years after his first call, when I was so certain he wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes of his predecessor, Mason’s proven one thing: sometimes I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.
Written by: Ryan Van Dusen
Originally published: November, 2015