Heard any OJ Mayo news of late?
The disciplinary status of the high school basketball phenom seems the only topic being discussed in town these days. And it isn't just a hot topic here. Hoppy Kercheval has devoted significant portions of his MetroNews show to the goings-on, and ESPN radio announces at the top of each hour the latest update.
Hell, even local Uber-Con Tom Roten is defending Mayo on his morning radio show.
I understand that the local high school team is ranked as the best in the country. And, I agree that the dramatic events at the game against Capital High a few days ago are newsworthy.
I guess I' m just tired of the hoopla.
In typical backlash fashion, these days I'm sort of rooting for the other team. I loved the psychological chess match that occurred a few weeks ago when South Charleston (WV) High refused to allow their game with Mayo's Huntington High team to be moved to the Charleston Civic Center, giving up a huge payday for the mental edge of a crowded home gym. And I loved the aggressive way Capital High went at the Highlander Dream Team. Toe to toe, without giving an inch.
That's the way I roll, baby. That's why they call me The Film Geek!
It is the way I like to see basketball played, though. Good psychological sparring mixed with tough, no-nonsense physical play. That's because guys like me have to play that way...We make up for having few athletic skills with hard elbows, dogged-determination and good old fashioned rules-bending.
In 1980-something our high school basketball team went up against an Oak Hill (WV) basketball team that produced two Division I players, both over 6'8 inches tall. We were outmatched, and knew it. That's why I walked up to Tom "Speedy" Jones at the jump circle before the start of the game and said:
"Speedy, there's no dunking in tonight's game. If you dunk, I have to cut your legs out from under you. I just want you to know that in advance."
We shook hands, and about a minute into the game he did this:
While he was concentrating on slamming the ball-- really hard-- through the hoop, I was working to position myself under his legs. Sure, it was dirty. But I warned him in advance. After he fell hard to the floor, I helped him up.
"Sorry, Speedy, but I have to do that. Every time you dunk. Be expecting it."
Even though Speedy didn't try to dunk anymore in that game, his Red Devils team beat our team pretty handily. In the end, it didn't really matter that I'd prevented the guy from dunking on me more than once.
Except to me, that is.
I hope this Highlander team enjoys this unusually exciting high school ride, and that many of those players enjoy their soon-to-come college basketball experiences. And I hope OJ Mayo enjoys the NBA--'cause he will get there--and all the shiny things that come with that exciting lifestyle.
Just know that a few years from now it will be equally important for dozens of soon-to-be fat guys across West Virginia to start a story with:
"One time, when I was guarding the post, OJ Mayo came driving down the lane..."