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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Mason Jr. to show LeBron film

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lute Olsons retirement ceremony, 7/8/09
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Lute Olson’s retirement ceremony, 7/8/09

The pop-culture community knows Harvey Mason Jr. for his talent as a musician.

At Arizona, he’s known more for his days playing under Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson from 1986-1990.

His two loves entwined, Mason Jr. returns to Tucson today for a free showing of “”More Than a Game,”” a documentary film following the pre-NBA hoops career of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James and his high school teammates. The screening will take begin in Centennial Hall at 7 p.m. and a Q&A session with Mason Jr. will take place afterwards.

“”The story was pretty universal and pretty relevant to my life and my career, having a son that I coach and having an AAU team that I coach,”” Mason Jr. said. “”The hard work and the dedication that went into what these guys did, under a lot of adversity and against a lot of steep odds — these guys accomplished something great.””

Directed by Kristopher Belman, also the co-producer with Mason Jr., the film covers James and his four teammates — Dru Joyce III, Romeo Travis, Sian Cotton and Willie McGee — through their childhood friendship and AAU club team, and into their four-year run at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, where they would come to win a national championship their senior year.

A five-year project, Mason Jr. met Belman in 2003 through his babysitter as Belman was filming a high-school aged James for Belman’s 10-minute, senior class project at Loyola Marymount University.

The duo clicked, and the film became much more than a thesis.

“”We hired an archivist to go back and really scour the country for (footage), either independent people filming on little handheld cams or cell phones, news organizations (and) we got a lot of stuff from ESPN,”” Mason Jr. said.

“”I think the more impressive footage was (Belman’s) stuff that he shot that’s kind of the more intimate person stuff; behind the scenes, in the locker rooms, the buses, LeBron’s house, which I think makes the movie more than just a highlight reel.””

From the beginning, it was meant to differ from most documentaries.

“”We just wanted to do something that looked like a major feature film, narrative-style movie. We didn’t want to do just a doc, just an ESPN-style TV show,”” Mason Jr. said. “”We pushed the limits on special effects, on sound design.””

Mason Jr. oversaw production, hiring, interviews and of course the music. He said an 80-piece orchestra was used to create the music — a soundtrack produced for the movie includes music from Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, and Jordin Sparks.

The most well known song of the album is the Drake single “”Forever,”” which features Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem.

“”All the songs we did were specifically for the film,”” Mason Jr. said. “”We had pretty much everybody involved in the soundtrack I wanted to include. Everyone was excited.””

Mason Jr. said he was attracted to the project when seeing similar life lessons in the film’s story as he did while playing basketball at Arizona.

“”Just being around the game and knowing what it takes to be successful and knowing how you have to overcome so much to be successful at everything,”” he said, “”that’s the case in my basketball life.

“”Having been around Coach Olson and great players, you know, Steve Kerr, Sean Elliot — watching guys and teams accomplish great things, those are the things I gravitate towards.””

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