The high school prodigy. The next Micheal Jordan. The haters. The ball hog. And Finally the rookie.
Mayo's road was anything but easy, and one of the most controversial ones for a NBA rookie in recent years. But finally, with everything left behind, O.J has enjoyed a good and promising rookie year. But how did all this happen; how did he get here?
He was only 15 while he was busy schooling fellow NBA players: Daquan Cook, T.J Ford, Udonis Haslem. Ohio was full of it. They had LeBron and now him. Mayo wasn't even an NBA player, and already some people were using the saying "He's the next O.J." He was a star.
Then it happened. Followed by the media everywhere... literally. The haters, the people who would bow to his name, at the age of 15! A regular teenager? Through all this, many would disagree though, Mayo would practise as hard as any one else.
Mayo's now 19. Four years ago he was the high-school super-star. He would kill opponents with his fire, his shot and killed competition much more mature and advanced than his own team. He went on to win the title for his high school. The idea that LeBron had been dominating in this state just a few years earlier made Mayo's fame even more fun to watch.
His name soon became identical with that of one of the most hated/loved players in the league. None other than Mamba Bryant. Though Mayo himself once publicly stated that he would rather be called the next R. Allen. The hottest and sharpest shooter in the league, maybe all-time, in that year.
But the comparison to Bryant may have been the most accurate as O.J suffered some problems on and off the court. As if no other kid had, right? And it's just so much easier to create a problem when you're a child publicly renowned by the world of media. But, much like the Tim Tebow today, the media would think it crazy if this prodigy wasn't perfect. So when he ended missing perfection, obviously fans had to make a big deal out of it.
Then, as if too quickly, the young high-schooler found himself on USC, leading them into the tournament just to lose to fellow all-american Micheal Beasley in the first round. Bam! That was fast. O.J sitting, patiently, waiting for his name to be called. Derrick Rose. Micheal Beasley. Then...O.J Mayo-Timberwolves. That idea didn't last long though as he was quickly shipped to the Grizzlies for Kevin Love.
His N.B.A debut was nothing short of disastrous. 5-20 from the field, devastatingly outplayed defensively by McGrady. The haters went to their computer quickly and blogged about how right they were on Mayo. The people who obeyed by the Mayo laws were right though, as Mayo was terrific for the next several games, averaging a splendid 20 points per contest.
If people complained about his power, he would dunk on somebody. People complained that he didn't pass, he got 8 assists. People complained about his FG%, he only missed four shots scoring 23 points while leading the Grizzlies over .500 for a 4-3 start.
He won Western rookie of the month easily for November, sharing honors with fellow rookie sensation Derrick Rose. Mayo was averaging huge numbers, seven more than Rose, scoring like Shaq, A.I and M.J. in their rookie seasons. Critics were still writing 'bout Mayo; but almost always praising him.
Everything was going smoothly, that is, until the Grizzlies re-became the Grizzlies. Twelvegame losing streaks. More criticism about the head-coach, and Mayo's lack of leadership. Did they really expect a 19 year old BOY to take control of the situation.
It was hard on Mayo. He was a winner. He had always been a winner. Now this. He was depressed thou-roughly about the situation. Along with the losing, came Mayo's individual fall. His stats were going down on a spiral. Were the pressure and immaturity too much to overcome? The Grizzlies and Mayo were a lost cause. They both needed a change.
On the 12th game of the losing streak, Coach Ivaroni was fired. Hollins took over as coach, hopefully for the better. On his first game they ended the terrible losing outcome, but just merely beat the league worst Wizards.
Mayo also seemed toned to his losing streak, scoring his career-best, at the time, 33 buckets. He was draining jumpers from basically all over the floor. The manager let out a sigh of relief, possibly believing that the hatred on his young star, and his lack of experience had finally been passed.
But no good game for Mayo goes out "un- criticized." Creaming the Wiz with around 10 seconds left, Mayo proceeded to flush down a fancy dunk. Mayo probably did it to release any tensing in the body, or any form of denial and frustration. What other reporters viewed it as? A stupid, mean move just to tease the other team. Mayo felt he coudn't do anything without being blamed for being so young and stupid.
But this time, the media decided not to make such a big deal out of it. Maybe, just maybe, they had grown accustomed and even started to enjoy and respect this young and up-coming youngster. Maybe they saw Mayo was so in love with the game, so in love with winning, maybe he seemed tough, yet was in enduring pain when ridiculed.
"That's the way it goes sometimes. I just have to keep working hard and keep my nose clean and just try to be the best player I can be. You got to win games pretty much to be looked at" Slam - O.J Mayo
The Grizzlies went on a slight winning session towards the end of the season, and Mayo ended up being a close second on the ROY ballots. A sign of improvement? Yes; 33 against the Wiz, and...remember the Houston game? The first one of the year? Well, Mayo received a rematch and showed what he could do this time around; 32 points, great FG(57%), 5 assists. Good enough.
After the game, Mayo finally being praised by the media, he exclaimed that he was content with where he was, but sees a cloud full of improvement nearby. "I want to be the complete package."
Mayo was voted the second most for the Rookie game, a sign fans were showing some recognition. The blamed imperfect from high-school had grown tremendously over the years, catapulting from his earlier months. He was no longer expected to be God, yet he is still one of the elite players that come every now and then.
He has endured more than most teenagers can write about for their life, but has also survived downward periods. He is one of the rare charismatic yet fragile personalities, and his need for winning will certainly pay-off.
He is O.J Mayo, and will be for years to come.
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