If the NBA lockout could be summed up in four letters, it would probably be, How u.
Former Wizard and players’ union vice president Roger Mason Jr. inadvertently sent out a message on Twitter in mid-September that read, “Looking like a season. How u” and was misinterpreted as a sign that the two sides were close to reaching an agreement. After initially claiming that his account was hacked, Mason later admitted that it was meant to be a text and that he was actually responding to a question about how long the lockout would last.
The “How u” phrase became a running punch-line during a work stoppage that provided many contentious moments that often required some levity. It also served as a reminder of the role that social media played in how the NBA lockout was covered and how fans, players and even owners were able to convey messages or frustrations throughout the process. Heat owner Mickey Arison was fined $500,000 for making it clear that an angry fan was “barking at the wrong owner” when seeking someone to blame over the lockout. CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, who used the “How u” line whenever possible, even broke the news of the lockout’s end on Twitter.
So when the two sides actually reached a tentative agreement to have a 66-game season beginning on Dec. 25, Mason arguably had one the best responses on Twitter while showing that he had a sense of humor about his earlier mishap. He wrote, “I Love Christmas! How U?”
“You can’t take yourself that serious,” Mason, the former Good Counsel and Virginia standout, said in a telephone interview. “The fans, they appreciated it, too. I’m just glad we’re having a season. Ego is never involved.”
When asked how he felt to have his mistaken tweet become the catch phrase of the past two months, Mason laughed and said, “That’s funny. People have been saying that.”
Mason has some interest in returning to Washington and played a huge role in making sure that he could sign anywhere as a free agent for the upcoming season.
He attended most of the negotiation sessions and was on a 1 a.m. conference call with the National Basketball Players’ Association executive committee early Saturday morning when executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher and vice president Maurice Evans shared that the owners were willing to give the players most of the system issues that they had demanded. Only four of the seven members of the executive committee were still awake for the call, but Mason said most of the players would be receptive to accepting the new proposal.
Players came down considerably in basketball-related income, providing the owners with a nearly $300 million windfall after accepting a 49 percent to 51 percent band. They had received 57 percent of revenues in the previous collective bargaining agreement. Mason could not offer specifics on the system mechanisms that prompted the agreement, but said the owners gave in on 10 of their 12 requests and expects players to ratify the agreement.
“Everybody is happy, but everybody feels that we’re getting a fair deal,” he said. “At the end of the day, we gave a lot, but you have to give the NBA credit. They came through and did what was necessary to get a deal.”
So, Roger, How u?
“I’m excited for the fans and really all the families and people affected that aren’t even playing the games. Concession workers, restaurant owners. All those guys. I’m happy for everyone,” said Mason, who will be a free agent after playing last season with the New York Knicks. “This has been a great experience for me personally, just to be involved. It hasn’t been easy. The time commitment that a lot of guys have made on both sides of the table, the NBA and the players association has been tremendous to get a deal done.”