Fish Goes 1-On-1 With Mavs' O.J. Mayo
I don't in any way wish to devalue the words of Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who offers an honest characterization of where O.J. Mayo is in his NBA career.
"O.J. is going to score,'' says Carlisle. "His best basketball is ahead of him."
Nor do I have anything but respect for owner Mark Cuban's optimistic view of the new starting 2-guard. (I also respect Cuban's right to drum up ticket-sale excitement over O.J.'s name value.)
"I think he can be a star,'' Cuban says. "I think O.J. know that this is his make-or-break as far as who he is really going to be in this league. He's working his butt off, he's got the talent and he's got the opportunity."
"The opportunity'' is about Mayo's departure from Memphis (where he was a key rotation player but not a starter) and his devotion in Dallas, where he's spent the last month working as the ringleader of offseason Mavs workouts down in the AAC basement.
"It starts with the head honcho, Mr. Cuban,'' Mayo says of the Mavs organization. "Then Dirk, a hard worker. When he came into the game, there were so many knocks. But he got it done. ... It's an honor to go to war alongside him.''
When you grow, you're going to have bumps in the road. ... I'm going to make mistakes. But it's all about getting better each and every day. ... I will hold myself accountable.''
My one-on-one visit with O.J. Mayo:
You will notice that in my conversation with O.J., I'm much more interested in him and his girlfriend than I am in him and Jason Terry. We know that in 31.7 minutes per, Terry last year averaged 15.1 points and shot 43 percent from the field and was good for 37.8 percent from the arc for Dallas. We also know that Mayo's track record -- even including last season when he got just 26.8 minutes per in Memphis -- he is likely to post comparable numbers.
To me, that's a far too linear-thinking approach to what Mayo is trying to bring to Dallas.
He is saying he's putting his career in the hands of Carlisle to re-mold. He is conceding errors in his approach on the climb to stardom. He is looking in the mirror and searching for the sort of maturity that can come as a man makes a commitment to a woman, tips his cap to a parent, shows respect for "players of the 50's and 60's,'' or warmly hugs a reporter whom he just met.
Yes. You get a hug from O.J. Mayo and you let yourself like him. So sue me ...
What I wanted to hear from Mayo is answered in my frank question to him about stardom and his approach to it. His answer, as you see, helps convince me he is a "professional's professional.''
Carlisle's review of Mayo is impressive. Cuban's review of Mayo is impressive. But none of it quite carries the weight of Mayo's review of Mayo, as you see when he addresses DB.com In His Own Words.
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