Rather than jump the gun on this O.J. Mayo matter, the New York Times waited for the story to develop and, as we did here earlier, allowed the inevitable video evidence to appear, in an effort to ensure accuracy in its reporting.
Even better, Pete Thamel provided the proper context in the lead of his story on Mayo in yesterday’s Times, along with some quotes from people who actually know what they’re talking about:
O. J. Mayo, a West Virginia high school senior considered the country’s best guard prospect since LeBron James, has been suspended and is not expected to play tonight in a national showdown game.Most importantly, Thamel relies on his own eyes, rather than second-hand accounts, using the video to help provide an objective interpretation of what happened.
Mayo’s team, Huntington High School, ranked No. 2 in the country by USA Today, will play No. 11 Artesia High School of Lakewood, Calif., in the Hoophall Classic in Durham, N.C.
More than 5,000 fans are expected at [Duke's] Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game is part of a tripleheader featuring some of the best high school teams in the country. […]
“It’s an amazingly bizarre story,” said Dave Elkins, the director of marketing partnerships for the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is putting on today’s event. “This is the team that’s making so much history in that region.
“To have something like this come up, it’s intriguing.”
Mayo picked up his first technical foul for taunting after a dunk late in the second half of Friday’s victory against Charleston’s Capital High School, the No. 2-ranked team in the state. Mayo caught the ball after it went through the net and strutted toward the free-throw line still holding the ball.Apparently, Thamel isn’t the only one who thinks the ref’s fall was “exaggerated,” as a circuit court judge in West Virginia yesterday ordered an injunction that allowed Mayo to play in the HoopHall Classic at Duke.
After being whistled for the technical, he walked to midcourt, where players from both teams had gathered and were jawing. Mayo then walked away, tucking in his shirt and looking at the sky.
The second technical was called after Mayo walked back toward the players gathered at halfcourt. On the video, he did not appear to say or do anything.
But when the official Mike Lazo walked over to the scorer’s table to report the technical, Mayo followed him. Mayo appeared to make subtle contact with Lazo, his shoulder brushing up against Lazo’s back. Lazo then dropped suddenly to the ground. On the video, it appears that little contact was made and that Lazo’s fall was exaggerated.
According to USA Today’s Christopher Lawlor, Mayo, “considered the nation’s top player,” drove with a family friend for six hours to get to Durham, just in time to “spark” his team to a 73-66 win. Combined with a loss yesterday by the nation’s current No. 1 team (St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J.) the win should give Mayo’s Huntington High the No. 1 spot next week.
The funny thing is Mayo fouled out of last night’s game with 2:40 left and the score tied at 63. So, we can’t be sure what Lawlor means by “spark,” but I’d say Mayo must be one helluva good player if he can “spark” his team to a win against another nationally ranked team without even playing in the game.
Then again, I don’t know a lick about hoops.
UPDATE: Insomniac's Lounge has yet another take, not to mention a second and third camera angle, pulled from ESPN's PTI. The best part of the clip is Michael Wilbon's comments about Mayo's behavior. Again, we'll see for ourselves soon enough.