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Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 at 1:59 pm  |  140 responses

SLAM 112 Cover Story: OJ Mayo

Behind the scenes and whatnot. No justification necessary.

By Ryan Jones

I was flipping through old SLAM issues recently when I skimmed over one of LeBron James’ Basketball Diairies. Ah, how young we all were: LeBron was wearing head-to-toe adidas and didn’t yet own a Hummer. The issue in question was SLAM 62 (Aug. 02), with LeBron and Sebastian Telfair on the cover. It was kind of audacious at the time — too much too soon for Bron, and maybe too much period for Bassy — especially given the uber-confident tone of the cover. The two high schoolers on the front page could not possibly have looked more cocky, and then there was the headline:

“The Takeover.”

It was a tone carried over in Bron’s diary that month. His opening line? “Well, you seen the cover, so you know what’s up.” Yes, I suppose we did.

Which brings me to… OJ Mayo. You seen the cover, so you know what’s up.

Too much, too soon? Too much, period? I imagine a few of you are having those thoughts right now, thoughts that are perhaps made more colorful by profanity and questions of our nerve, judgment and/or sanity. Maybe you’re disappointed but not surprised. And at least some of you (I hope) are actually feeling it, psyched about this kid’s potential and curious to hear more about who he is, where he came from and what makes him tick. For that, you’ll have to check the issue. This post qualifies as supplemental reading.

I’ll start with a question: Why is OJ Mayo on the cover? Well, we think he’s pretty good at basketball. We’re not the only ones who think that, of course, nor were we the first — if you listened close enough, kid’s name was buzzing nationally when he was in 7th grade — but we’ve been thinking it for a while, and have continued to think it even after some of the experts started swapping praise for criticism. As I’ve written on this site previously, we tend to think that criticism has been overblown, a reaction to the fact that OJ was so good so soon, he was only going to improve so much continuing to play against high school comp. So, all that love for his game (or a lot of it, at least) turned to hate, “amazing talent” became “overrated” and “underachieving,” and inevitably, the tide turned. For better or worse, we’ve stayed steady with ours. We thought he was exceptionally dope when we first saw him at ABCD Camp as an 8th grader, we think he’s exceptionally dope as an almost-20-year-old college freshman, and we think he’ll be pretty dope as an NBA rookie next year.

All that said, this cover is about more than oncourt ability. It’s no longer my call, as I hung up my Ed. hat (a fitted, of course) about nine months ago, but I don’t think this cover happens now if OJ’s story isn’t so interesting. Again, you’ll have to check the mag for details, but it’s enough to know that OJ Mayo’s story combines the all-too-familiar cliche of the young black ballplayer — poor, single-parent household, etc and so forth — with almost unparalleled levels of media hype and a run of image-shaping circumstances that’s almost too strange to believe. He’s made a couple of undeniably dumb choices along the way (raise your hand if you made it through high school without doing the same, or if ESPN and the New York Times were keeping track when you did), but credit and blame for much of what he’s dealt with goes to the people around him.

And boy, have there been some interesting people around him.

We’ve been cool with OJ since his sophomore year of high school, and being on the periphery of his circle and being friendly with many of the people who helped guide his prep career, we heard and saw a lot. We watched him bounce from his hometown in West Virginia to live with his “grandfather” in Cincinnati, and we heard the rumors that, although friend and teammate Bill Walker was living just around the block, OJ was essentially living by himself for stretches of his time in Ohio. What we heard what that a kid who had grown up without a father and never had a single consistent male role model; and whose mother, busy with work and raising her younger kids, was living over the state line; and who’d had the media jocking his every move since he was in junior high; and who had a multi-million dollar NBA career at stake; was occasionally fending for himself.

We heard other rumors, too, about bad habits, about getting in fights, general knucklehead behavior that generally wasn’t substantiated. We heard it all, much of it from people we trust, and then we compared it with what we knew, or at least what we’d observed first-hand: That OJ Mayo had never been anything less than polite and inquisitive and accomodating. And mostly, we’ve decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

All this is to say that, personally, I was excited about hanging out with OJ Mayo on a long Saturday afternoon back in August. Professionally, I was confident he’d make for a great interview, both because of the reasons stated above, and because he’d already made clear that he was eager to talk. He didn’t disappoint.

I made the PA to CA trip early on a Friday morning, landed at LAX, immediately hit the In N Out that sits at the foot of the LAX inbound runway — don’t know why, but the combination of jetfuel and deafness just makes a burger taste better — drove to my hotel in downtown L.A., and laid down for a nap. This was, like, 1 p.m.

I woke up at about 10 p.m.

Any hopes of getting acclimated to West Coast time during my 36-hour stay now totally shattered, I went for a late-night walk in downtown L.A. (which, if you’ve been there, you know is not all that fun), an experience highlighted by being hit up for loose change by the same homeless guy twice in about five minutes. Apparently, he was walking one way around the block, and I was walking the other, and so we passed each other twice. As socially awkward moments go, this is up there.

I ended up finally going back to sleep at about 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, psyched for a 9 a.m. wake-up call. Only the promise of more In N Out in my near future got me out of bed. Also, I had that interview to do. So, bleery eyed but motivated, I rolled out to the photo studio in West L.A., where we’d begin our work day. SLAM’s go-to gunner, photographer Atiba Jefferson (who’s good at taking pictures, and also claims to be good with his thumbs) was there with his crew getting set up, while SLAM creative director Melissa Brennan was doing the glamorous work that big-time magazine creative directors do: She was ironing t-shirts.

OJ ran about 45 minutes late, tardiness blamed on a relatively believable streetname mix-up. (It is L.A., after all). He finally rolled in with Rodney Guillory, his L.A. lifeline, advisor and sounding board. Catching up was as easy as I’d expected: OJ was his usual charismatic self, making small talk, asking questions, seeming at ease with the attention but not caught up in it. A local barber that OJ and Rodney are cool with came through to give him a pre-photo shoot shape-up, so while we waited, we bullsh*tted about L.A. food, women and weather, about his first impressions of college life, about Mike Vick, about Kobe, about whatever.

My interview approach for this story was a little different than most. Guillory, whose name you should know by now, was our go-between on this process, and he’d asked me more than once what my “angle” was on this story. I usually try not to approach an interview with an angle per se, but I understood why he was asking; when you’ve had well-known cats in national newspapers and on the Worldwide Follower calling you names and questioning your character before high school graduation, it figures you’d be at least a little cautious with your interviews. What helped, in our case, was that OJ felt comfortable with SLAM in general, and with me in particular. Our own history with him, and this magazine’s tendency to give ballplayers the benefit of the doubt, definitely played a role.

Here’s the thing about that: I’m not naive. I may have been once, and more recently than I’d like to admit, but I know enough to understand that a guy in OJ Mayo’s position — a kid with an image to repair — would see SLAM as the most likely media outlet to be sympathetic to his side of the story. I also know that athletes, like other humans, are capable of bullsh*tting, and I’m aware that OJ, charismatic and personable as he is, could probably bullsh*t better than most. (I’ve been conned by intelligent and immensely talented L.A.-based ballplayers before, but that’s a story for another time). I could assume that OJ is everything his most vehement critics insist he is: A bully, a punk, a fraud. But I haven’t, both because it’s not what I’ve seen first hand, and because, again, I feel like a kid who’s dealt with the things he’s dealt with, and overcome the things he’s trying to overcome, should have a chance to prove conclusively who they are and what they’re about.

Anyway, back to L.A. We ran through a couple of photo set ups at the studio, then rolled to some old high school a few miles away — where, apparently, they used to shoot some of the exterior scenes at this old TV show called Beverly Hills 90210 (kids, ask your parents if they’ve heard of it) — and did some more dope set-ups. The theme was OJ as the regular Joe on campus, and it’s a role he says he embraces. He doesn’t front like he’s going to spend the next four years in college, but he also insists he’s taking school seriously. This is not because he’s a book worm necessarily, but because he’s got big plans for his post-basketball future. He wants to learn business, marketing, real estate. If he follows through on the things he’s talking about now, OJ’s gonna be giving Magic a run for his mogul title in 15 or 20 years.

After more pictures and a little more interview time at the high school, it was back on to the freeway, back toward downtown. We rolled up to the empty parking lot at the Shrine Auditorium, the historic hall that’s played host to the Oscars and pretty much every other awards show over the years. That’s where we shot the set-up with the Bentley, and it was also a chance to see how OJ knows he’s isn’t there yet — the way dude’s eyes lit up when he saw the ride said a lot about how far he still feels he has to go. It still seems like a dream to him — and it is, at the moment; the Bentley was a rental — something he’s chasing but has yet to grab.

One other thing that stuck with me about the car: I asked him if he liked it (duh), and then asked if that’d be the first dope car he’d buy with his NBA money. He thought about it for a second, then said, “Nah. A Maserati.” Not bad, but also not expected. I could be reaching here, but I loved the metaphor: This is the kid who chose the football school because he wanted to shine on his own terms, help put USC hoops on the map. Not, in other words, the kid who wanted to go to UNC or UConn or any other established power. Just like he didn’t want the car that every other baller would roll in.

After that, we wrapped things up and rolled to Inglewood, home to the nearest In N Out. OJ was still rocking the USC t-shirt and hat he wore at the shoot, and maybe because it was too obvious — five miles from the USC campus, rocking the school colors head to toe, could that really be him? — OJ wasn’t recognized by anyone. It was strange. Here’s guessing it won’t last long.

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  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Seeing the actual cover would be nice

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Great piece, Ryan. Hopefully OJ shows out at USC and follows-up in the lig. BTW, the 90210 high school was also the same one used for the Grease movie. And fix the spelling of becaue in the “becaue he’s a book worm sentence”. Dont’ want you to lose your spell-check title.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    How’s that, izzo?
    And thanks eboy. Typo fixed. Your knowledge of TV/movie locations is daunting.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    The cover shot isn’t showing up on my computer for some reason.Anyway I hate to agree but I feel the exact same way about O.J,he’s going to be really good and piss off a lot of people along the way.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Good stuff. And while I am a UCLA fan, it will be great to watch the best overall conference in college sports pick up another phenomenal talent. Hopefull the Clippers will tank this season, and draft OJ with the number 1 pick, and then LA might actually have a rivalry. Question for Ryan: How do you eat In N Out for every meal, yet still have the physique of Ashley Olsen?

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    I almost pissed myself Bodie! Poor little, frail Ryan. So small, so puny.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Coke(aine) and cigarettes, I guess, the diet of Hollywood starlettes for generations…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also: When Melissa isn’t ironic t-shirts, she designs dope magazine coves. Like this one.

  • Kihwan

    (I’ve been conned by intelligent and immensely talented L.A.-based ballplayers before, but that’s a story for another time).

    Couldn’t help but throw this in there, huh?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jake Appleman

    “(I’ve been conned by intelligent and immensely talented L.A.-based ballplayers before, but that’s a story for another time).” Wow, Elton Brand’s rep just took a major hit.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Wasn’t OJ on the SLAM High School All American first team for the last 8 years?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also: I just bought the Kanye record. That song with Chris Martin on it is f*cking horrible.

  • Reggie Evans

    UCLA BRUINS, class of 19XX! I’m excited that I’ll get to see the kid play this year in the Pac-10. Of course, I want to see Kevin Love do his Bill Walton at UCLA, too, but I’m really intrigued by what I’ve heard about Mayo. Man, those two have great last names for headlines. When he plays well, the L.A. times can write about “The Mayo Clinic”. When UCLA wins due to Kevin’s feats, they can say “It’s All Love”.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    *ironing* t-shirts, and magazine *covers*
    Kihwan: No, I couldn’t.
    Izzo: Yes, he was.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Ryan:Its nowhere near as bad as “Hot Drunk Girls”,that should not have been in the album.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Hi Jake. Good one.

  • Kihwan

    Pretty dope cover, but I think the cover could’ve been even better had Kevin Love been included. The 2 L.A. schools with the bitter rivalry with the 2 top recruits in the country.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jake Appleman

    Hi Ryan. Good post.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Kihwan, I assume Ben will respond to that one eventually.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Ryan Jones is good at writing. And “but that’s a story for another time…” I.E. ‘Never’.

  • phunkykarma

    Hope he’s not gonna be the next Korleone Young.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Kihwan, we thought about throwing Kevin on there, too (and Bodie, I feel you 100% about how good the Pac-10 will be this season), but Kevin’s story was told in every issue of SLAM last season (as the diary) and frankly, even if it hadn’t been told, his is not as interesting as OJ. And, while I love Kevin’s game, I don’t think he’ll be as good as OJ this season. Myles, wait til you see the actual story (on stands in NY this week. Minneapolis? Maybe a week from today?). Ryan KILLED it. Speaking of good writing, when will you be blessing us with another “Bears” column?

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    I’m not sure if I like the new, “be the bigger person” Ryan that doesn’t respond to the personal attacks.

  • http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/rdp/caasqp/caasqp.html Tarzan Cooper

    cant wait for the mag, i hope the grant hill piece is nice. ryan jones is now ashley olsen!

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    It’s not just this season. Consistently, the top 4 basketball and football teams in the Pac-10 (let alone the non-revenue generating sports) are as good as or better than the top 4 basketball and football teams of any other conference.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    If Love and OJ were on the cover people will be screaming “Magic vs Bird part II” or even worse see it as a black v white thing which would not be a good thing(captain obvious),also putting Love on the cover now would have been a bit of a stretch I think although I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing him play.But what do I know?And co-sign Ben,Myles step up.Also I should get my copy in about two months.Yayy!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Can you guys tell Ashley and Mary Kate apart? I expect something really profane from you on this one, Bodie.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Don’t change the subject Ryan.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Ok…. even if I cared to deny that I’m scrawny and pale (which I really honestly don’t), there’s photographic evidence. So what’s my comeback supposed to be? I guess I could accuse you of being a ‘roid-injecting, tan-booth-dwelling misogynist @sshole who who might be better off opening a book for once then spending another 7-hour day at Gold’s, but what would be the point? You probably don’t own any books anyway.
    Was that better, Bodie?

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Perhaps a bit too good. Damn, don’t hurt em Hammer.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Yes, Ryan. But work on the use of then vs. than. Thanks.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Not caustic enough, Ryan.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Ryan:You could have called him Rosie O’Donnell and have been done with it

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    And I’ve got something brief but Bearsesque for you later today Ben & Izzo.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    About time, Myles.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    That was uncalled for, Izzo.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Sorry Bodie. My rage blinded me to the proper vowel usage.

  • T

    Ryan,

    Being from PA I have an even better candidate for an incoming college freshman with a crazy story. He’s not OJ Mayo status so he probably would not warrant a cover. However, he was a Top 25-40 player in the HS class of ’07, Herb Pope. There is a kid with a very intriguing tale. Add to that, the coach he committed to bounced on him for the Kings. Crazy from beginning to present!

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Figure’s the token Irishman would use the only famous, fat, Irish lesbian in our country as his comparison figure.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    I believe it to be more of a grammar problem than a spelling one, but whatever.
    Changing the subject, would OJ have been drafted 3rd if eligible for the 2007 draft? Actually, no question. I believe Atlanta needs a point guard…

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    That’s not entirely true, eboy. Aren’t the majority of Irish women fat lesbians? There’s got to a reason the men drink so much.

  • http://www.ojmayonnaise.com OJMayonnaise

    Sweet cover and article!

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    I’d like to direct all of you to the brief dialogue between eboy and I about slam and 9/11 over on Marcel’s Isiah Love and Basketball post.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    We don’t drink that much,you guys don’t drink enough

  • http://www.sokofund.org/id20.html Adrian

    I think it’s all that light beer Izzo.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    T, I’m very familiar with Herb, and he has been in the magazine. Not quite cover worthy yet, but if he’s as good as expected this season, I imagine he’ll probably get back into SLAM before too long.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Ditto what Ryan says. He was also a pretty big part of a piece I did on the Players Association Camp in PUNKS last year. Herb is a tremendous interview and certainly has a great story, and he should be back in SLAM before long. OJ Mayonaise: thanks!

  • http://slamonline.com mutoni

    things ryan is good at: being pale, being skinny, commenting on slamonline, and oh yeah, putting words and sentences together for magazines.

  • john

    about time they came out with a magazine. who’s next, it better be kobe.

  • Reggie Evans

    OJ is a swing player, not a point, right?

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    From what I’ve seen, Reggie, as far as skillsets go, he’s Gilbert Arenas, part II.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    John Kobe is “Who’s Now.” Dwight Howard is “Who’s Next.” Catch up on your ESPN dude. Reggie, go directly to Philadelphia, do not grab anyone’s n*ts and do not collect $200. OJ will meet you there next year. And I agree with Bodie, he’s a scoring point.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Combo guard in the truest sense: PG skills (passing, court vision) with a scorer’s athleticism and mentality. So Bodie’s not far off. But as far as where you pencil him it (most likely) at SC and (definitely) in the pros, I’d think of him as a scoring point guard.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    How ironic would it be if OJ really did replace AI in Philly?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I’m honestly a little bit worried about his point skills. His scoring, defense and toughness are NBA all-star caliber. But at a listed 6′ 5″, to be truly memorable his ballhandling and passing will have to be superior as well. I don’t doubt he can get them to that level, but in my opinion he hasn’t done that yet.

  • Kihwan

    Ben: Thanks for the insight on the cover choice. I agree that Love’s story isn’t as interesting, but Mayo’s story has already been well-documented, if not in the pages of SLAM, like Love, but definitely on this website. Hopefully Ryan’s article will add something new to what’s already been said about OJ.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Regardless of my minor critique, I think OJ will be freshman of the year. I think Mike Beasley has the most talent, and certainly Kevin Love, Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose should have good seasons, but I think OJ will be the best of all of them this season.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Kihwan, I think Ryan’s story adds a lot.

  • Kihwan

    Cool, looking forward to reading it.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    With Afflalo gone, I’m not sure that anyone on UCLA can guard OJ. Collison looks like he is about 6 foot at best, and none of the other UCLA perimeter players are very good defenders, from what I recall. SC is going to be tough this year, even without Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt.

  • Reggie Evans

    Scoring point guard? Larry B—- would tell you that’s an oxymoron. But I wouldn’t.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Bodie, I’m a pretty big fan of Taj Gibson’s, too. Kevin Love will NOT have his way with that dude.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Gibson is an athlete, but with Mata (still in school?), Love, and the Cameroonians, UCLA should be able to handle him.

  • Chris O

    When was the last time SLAM had a college kid (who was still playing college ball) on the cover? Rafer?

  • Simon Fuller

    Please don’t paint OJ as the saviour for USC hoops, the one who is going to “put them on the map”. He chose USC because he knew he could go there, score 25 a game and give himself the best chance to be the #1 pick in next year’s draft. I have nothing against him and good luck to him, but that’s why he went to USC, plain and simple. If he wanted to put USC basketball on the map he would be planning to stay there longer than a year. Did Stephon Marbury put Georgia Tech basketball on the map? No, and I remember reading (probably in SLAM) that he doesn’t even bother following the Yellow jackets when they make the NCAA Tournament because “I was only there for a year”. Did Shareef usher in a golden age at California? Will Ohio State keep their Final Four momentum going without Oden, Conley and Cook?

  • http://yahoo.com Devontae Palmer in dis hoe, watch me crank and watch me roll.SUPERMAN!!!!! UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FINALLY! THE OJ MAYO ERA HAS BEGUN! I HAVE SO MANY MIXES AND ONLINE VIDEOS OF THIS MAN TILL IT MAKES ME SICK. I AM READY TO SEE HIM ON THE BIG STAGE OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL. I MIGHT BE ABLE TO CATCH A COUPLE OF HIS GAMES ON T.V. TO SEE WHAT HE IS REALLY ABOUT. THE MEDIA DOES GO TO HARD ON OJ AND THEY NEED TO GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE TO SHOW HIS TRUE COLORS. PLAY WIT IT.

  • SMK

    Simon – GA Tech basketball was already on the map thanks to Lethal Weapon III. Marbury was just following in the footsteps of Kenny Anderson. Still, that doesn’t take away from your point about Mayo using USC just as much as they’re using him.

  • http://nba.com muazam

    C00L Cova o well i hope baren davis gets a cover he deserves 1 nice bentley ha ha

  • gii

    looking forward to picking up this ish and the upcoming hoops season. fight on!

  • Reggie Evans

    Ryan Jones is familiar with herb.

  • howard

    why does OJ gets a solo cover before Yao Ming???? No wonder SLAM is more style than substance.

  • Orlando

    this is disgusting

  • Orlando

    mofo hasnt scored 1 pts in college…nm the NBA

  • Orlando

    He cant even afford the key chain that goes with that car…

  • Orlando

    Worst cover idea ever…is slam becoming a Hip Hop mag…w-t-f!

  • Orlando

    I sware the only reason I still drop 6 bones on this Piece of S*** mag is because i have been doing so since iss. 20!

  • Orlando

    Sorry for throwing so much salt SLAM…but you guys are slipping!…..nevermind that…you were slipping 1 year ago when i wrote in TT and didnt get published….now you guys are drowning in a pool or your past success.

  • fan of the game

    At least you mentioned Rodney Guillory although I hope the actual article explains in more detail who he really is and who he was when his name first came to basketball fans attention, hint Jeff Trepagnier, Tito Maddox, suspended for taking money from agents.

    I was also happy to see you acknowledge that OJ can BS with the best of him, he’s not a “bad kid” but he’s not a saint, he’s very good at using the media to his advantage to craft the image he wants out there.

    Pot arrest, didn’t take long for WV media to report they were actually there because that’s where the mom of one of the friends in the car lives, they were bringing her milk, at 2 AM!

    Dunks and then throws ball into stands to end HS career, didn’t take long before the Mayo media explained that, he was throwing the ball to his father who was sitting in the stands. Yes, Mayo is the next Lebron, best player in the country, in his final highschool game, yet somehow his father isn’t able to get frontrow seats so Mayo has to chuck the ball WAY up in the stands to reach him?

    As is often the case with Mayo if you actually stop and examine what’s being said, it doesn’t hold water.

    But apparently the NCAA has decided anything he or Dwaine Barnes or Rodney Guillory did when he was in HS is ok, he’s still an amateur, play ball.

    Should be a fun year in the Pac 10 the conference is loaded.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Chris, I’m at home and there’s always a chance my memory isn’t 100% right, but if I’m not mistaken, the history of college covers in SLAM is: Allen Iverson (split cover issue 9), Charles O’Bannon (split cover issue 9) and yes, Rafer Alston (issue 22). When the Greg Oden cover (issue 99) came out he was already on campus at Ohio State, but we shot him in his high school all-american jersey. Then when the Oden/Durant cover (issue 110) came out, they were both about to enter the NBA, so I guess those don’t realy count.
    Orlando, so if we’d published your letter in Trash Talk a year ago it would be all love?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Ryan, FYI, the spine line takes on even more relevance in light of one of today’s other popular topics on the site (Mr. West)…The College Drop-in

  • Simon Fuller

    SMK: I disagree. Yes three stars managed to take Georgia Tech to the Final Four, but it was a similar situation to what I predict will happen with Ohio State, a lightning in a bottle case. Dennis Scott and Kenny Anderson both left school early to the NBA and GT went in to hibernation in the four years between Anderson leaving and Marbury arriving. Is GT a perennial powerhouse? No. Will USC basketball be the new UNC after OJ Mayo has gone? No way.

  • MD KERR

    I love what FAN OF THE GAME WROTE about Rodney Gillory, Dwaine Barnes knows the whole story about Rodney and OJ, just ask him. All you guys will see about OJ and Rodney. I can’t believe you named it ” Fresh Prince of LA” he’s the fresh prince of LA allright.

  • Gilbert0

    Ryan, we get it, you like In n Out. As for the rest, ugh.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    SO glad we finally got some dissent on here. Nothing I hate more than when I’ve everybody thinks I did a good job…
    And the spine line is outstanding, Ben.

  • jay

    cool cover..i think the kid is good..how good..we shall see..i am not going to judge..watching him in the all star games i really like eric gordon’s game who is going to indiana (why ther) i have no idea?? oj was good but did not blow me away like bron did in his mcdonalds and jordan classic games…we shall see. is he going to the next bron or the “next” out of the high schoolers..now one and done guys to not live up to the billing….we shall see..i am rooting for the kid!!!

  • Jukai

    I can’t wait for this kid to fail

  • Jukai

    I’m sorry, I take that back. I don’t think he doesn’t deserve the praise he gets as a basketball player, he’s clearly going to be at an Arenas level or most probably better. But I don’t like how Slam defends his previous behaviors, or worse yet in this post, downright denies them. It’s too bad I wasn’t famous when I sucker punched a kid in the face, I woulda gotten away with it too.

  • fan of the game

    MD Kerr, note, imho the real culprit with Mayo was Barnes, not Guillory. By the time Guillory started doing business with mayo Barnes had long since violated his amateur status.

    A simple question for Ryan Jones, who exactly does Mayo say he lived with while at North College Hill these days? And who does he say was paying the rent those years?

    I think a greart article for Slam would be a feature on USC and Tim Floyd, the next UNLV and Jerry Tarkanian.

  • Gilbert0

    yeah but Jukai he likes maseratis so he is a different breed. Classy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    gil & f.o.t.g — are you guys doing this together on IM? ‘Cause it’s cute.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    And I have no idea how I made that cool box, but if I can figure it out I’ll let everybody know.

  • john

    o.j. mayo fresh prince of L.A., kobe fresh king of L.A., NOW THAT’S FRESH.

  • fred

    Nice cover but i was kinda hoping for a cover with the celtics trio, they better be on it next issue!!!

  • fan of the game

    Ryan, you didn’t answer the question, do I have to read the article to get the answer on where he was living, who he was with, and who was paying for it? Because the blurb above implies that you are going to discuss such things in the article and answer some questions, so did you?

    We both know Barnes isn’t his real grandfather, and he wasn’t living with Barnes, he admitted that to Seth Davis of SI over a year ago. He also wasn’t living with his uncle(he once claimed he was) because his uncle doesn’t live in the NCH attendance area, they investigated that to make sure he was eligible to play for NCH. So I know NCH knows where he was living but was he really living on his own at the time?

    I mean Tim Floyd guaranteed us he didn’t give out his cell # because his mom couldn’t pay the bill if he did, so who is paying rent in Cincy for 3 years? Is it coincidence that he became connected to Guillory the same time he apparently got an apartment on his own in Cincy?

    Everyone knows the kid is a hell of a player and will be an NBA star, that’s the boring stuff now the intrigue is all the other stuff with him. That’s why so few colleges bothered to recruit him in the first place.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I have OJ’s cell number. Would it be easier if I just gave it to you so you can ask him yourself?
    Ok, I’ll be nice: Yes, I actually do answer most of your questions in the article. As I stated near the top, this here is supplemental reading.

  • AJ

    When do we get the new issue?

  • fan of the game

    thanks Ryan I guess I will read the article then to see OJ’s answers.

    I wouldn’t want to charge up his cellphone bill so I’ll pass on that thanks.

    I really think you miss the point of why the love for Mayo turned to “hate”, it’s because a lot of us don’t like the current shamateur basketball that is AAU and bigtime HS ball, and Mayo used that system more than any kid in recent memory thanks to Barnes and later Guillory.

    Great player I think he’ll get first team all Pac 10 this year he’s that good.

    Sorry for the tone on the earlier post but the point of a blog for fans is to discuss and answer the questions, thank you for doing so.

  • SLAMtacular

    What are your thoughts on players like Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Jennings, Larry Drew, Jerime Anderson? The top 2008 PG’s on the West in in the nation?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    If you check this site with any regularity, you know I live for conversations like these. No apology necessary. My only beef is with your assertion that you don’t like OJ because of “the current shamateur basketball that is AAU and bigtime HS ball, and Mayo used that system more than any kid in recent memory.” I’m not even disagreeing with you that the system is messed up, but doesn’t the grassroots scene — not unlike the NCAA — use and exploit the kids more than anything? Assuming you’re right, why the hell shouldn’t the kids get to return the favor? Not to make yet another LeBron comparison (I do that a lot), but when, as a senior, he finally ended up pimping a system that had been pimping him for two or three years, he got murdered for it by a LOT of people. I didn’t understand why then, and I still don’t. That’s why I continue with my BOTD theme, and go forward cautiously optimistic that OJ won’t make me look like a sucker. We shall see.

  • lawrence moten

    he looks like an idiot with his hat like that

  • fan of the game

    Sure the kids get used to an extent, but it is AMATEUR basketball. And they get a free education if they choose to take it. And kids like Mayo get flown all over the country while in HS for games, AAU tournies, all star camps etc. They get free shoes, free stuff, yes it’s tiring and it is tough on these kids, but they don’t have to do it.

    I could buy it if he was say Polee Jr skipping AAU because his dad dislikes the system(but apparently has no trouble taking a job in exchange for his son keeping his verbal to Tim Floyd), but Mayo wasn’t anything like that.

    I don’t want to write a novel but he went to kentucky so he could play varsity early. When the coach(Jeff Hall)refused to drop Walker down a class at Barnes insistence, they bolt off to NCH. And shockingly years later Walker gets told his eligibility is up and we’re supposed to feel sorry for him, like they didn’t know that all along? Barnes was running both those kids around then.

    The point is, amateur basketball is supposed to be for amateurs. It is people like Barnes and Guillory that screwed it all up(frankly Vaccaro started it and deserves the most blame) and since they’re so intimately involved with Mayo, I tend to hold him accountable.

    Mayo is too “crafted” for my tastes, even when telling the truth is perfectly acceptable, he’ll instead craft an answer.

    Like the whole Baron Davis flack recently, people were saying Baron doesn’t know mayo that was all USC/UCLA stuff. Baron has known mayo for years, Mayo has had Baron’s cell # for years, Baron interviewed him extensively for the movie about Vaccaro that Baron is involved with. he knows the kid, when he told him to shut up and play instead of arguing calls, it was BECAUSE he knew the kid, had nothing to do with school rivalries.

    I don’t wish the kid to fail or anything that others have said, I just don’t like reading over and over what a misunderstood kid he is.

    Honest question, would it shock you if in 2 years Yahoo Sports is doing a story about Mayo like the ones they did on Reggie Bush and USC?

  • jk24

    man, kobe’s the fresh prince of l.a.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Fan of the game is a little worked up over all this.

  • Orlando

    Of course it wouldnt be all love Ben! you guys would still be making the same mistakes. You guys dont learn fast…lol…like 2 yrs back i wrote something about you guys need to have some dunks in your mag….now finally they are getting some page time… a little…actually got some SB action in “Kicks mag”…pigeons…..2yrs….2yrs……

    also…the fashion in the mag is bogus…who even dresses like that anymore….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    fan of the game also has a remarkable amount of inside information. Your true identity must be known!
    And to answer your question, I will never be surprised by any questionable recruiting tactic at any program in any sport. Ever.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    But f.o.t.g, while I appreciate your thought-out and intelligent arguments, I’m really much more entertained by my man O-Town, claiming that a magazine called “SLAM” that’s been around 14 years first started running pictures of dunks two years ago because he wrote us a letter about it. Orlando, you’ve made my morning.

  • fan of the game

    Ryan the stuff about Mayo and Baron is right out of an interview he did in Dime Magazine as a soph(sorry to cite a competitor).

    The Walker stuff is right out of the newspaper, direct quotes from Jeff Hall and the NCH principal about how Walker went from 9th grade in Kentucky to 8th grade in Cincinnati. All by plan of Barnes.

    Without saying “advisor” can you tell us what you think Guillory’s real job is and who pays him?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I’ll just say this: If Rodney was as dirty as everyone seems to think he is, why would he be so public in his affiliation with OJ? How does that possibly benefit him? If he’s such a snake, why not just operate behind the scenes? That part of it honestly makes no sense to me, or certainly not any more sense than OJ’s explanation of their relationship, which he details in the magazine and which I’ll maybe expound on more if I ever get around to posting the entire Q&A in a few weeks. For now, you’ll have to wait for the issue. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.

  • fan of the game

    The NCAA called Guillory a representative of a sports agent when it ruled in 2000. Since then he worked for Reebok, and then started organizing tournaments and basketball events on the West Coast. That’s how Mayo met him, Guillory was the guy who first brough Mayo out to the West Coast for an event when Mayo was in HS.

    He’s also pretty open about his future goals with Mayo, he wants to represent Mayo as his “marketing representative” which is apparently his current official job title. Change the names from Guillory to Ornstein and Mayo to Bush and you see why this seems a bit suspicious?

    What makes the whole situation so ridiculous is Trepagnier PLAYED FOR USC! he got in trouble at USC, because of Guillory, and just a few years later Floyd has given Guillory open access to his team.

    I look forward to the issue, I just hope Mayo doesn’t claim Guillory is his “uncle” now or something?

  • Melissa Brennan

    Thanks for the compliment Ry, I just saw it today. I was out of town for a few days doing some ironing for another shoot. Very glamorous indeed. Have a great weekend and was good to see you and little dude last week.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Again, I look forward to your book, f.o.t.g … You’ve clearly been researching the sh*t out of this topic.
    And MB, I’m hearing good things about this shoot…

  • fan of the game

    Ryan the book you want to read is the one Tom Groeschen hopefully writes.

    Regarding Guillory, a friend of mine’s son played for Fresno State the year Guillory got Maddox in trouble. I have heard several first hand accounts of how much he was around that team and how players knew it was a matter of time before he got Maddox in trouble with the NCAA.

  • http://www.espn.com sitngray42

    i wanna see that kevian matrtian story

  • http://NBA.com U Noe Me

    OK… if hes that good to put on a slam issue how come he isnt in the NBA?answer my question! Theirs soo many stuff around him and he doesnt even play with the pros!! WTF..?

  • http://NBA.COM Im back U Noe Me

    AND UM.. by the ways wheres that team.. ohh.. ya team USa. Their the best in the world (perfect record) and by the cover their not in it WTF!!!

    Peace

  • fresh

    that covewr is crack and oj mayo is the truth

  • Greg

    ayo SLAM maybe you should have put the best college freshmen this year… Mike Beasley, Eric Gordon, I mean OJ got shut down last year at a high school invite by a bunch of sophmores… whack?

  • http://hoopshype.com whitechocolate

    will there be a nba preview in the magazine or is that in the next issue

  • http://www.youtube.com/prcasey03 Pistol Whippin Pete

    Lance Stephenson, Lance Stephenson, Lance…

  • Nabeel

    when dos the issue hit news stands?

  • The rock

    i read a interview about this guy and i think he has a crush on kobe they asked who he would like to have dinner with he said kobe then he kept talking about kobe

  • http://hoopshype.com whitechocolate

    when does it come out and is there an nba preview

  • bmd

    Man can yall get off OJ’s Jock dang,He hasnt shown any improvement from his Junior to Senior year.Dude is a year older than his comp.He hasnt even played a game yet.Yall hyping him up like Telfair.Yall need to hype up Rose,Gordon,and Love.

  • R.R

    Slamtacular I believe Isaih thomas is gonna be a star in Washington. Bradon Jennings is gonna be straight and those other guys I never heard of

  • Peso

    anyone have this issue yet? im havent gotten it in the mail or seen it on the newsstands either

  • MD KERR

    From what i hear about the magazine from people in New York, they hope NCAA will get a copy.

  • MD KERR

    I just hope OJ Mayo will not let Gulliory take him for his money at the end.

  • BRANDON

    how about KG on the cover?

  • BRANDON

    or kg, ray and the truth on the front that would be sicck

  • mdizzle

    when is ish 112 released, estimate?

  • http://slam bats

    when was the last time chauncey and the pistons were on the coover mate? ya gotta make a cover with em on there.

  • http://slam again again nate

    aye we need a cover with tayshuan prince!!

  • http://slam alex

    how bout rip hamilton?

  • http://slam remixed ballin

    he has a point put tayshaun prince on the cover

  • http://slam bats

    we need to have a cover with the starting 5 pistons headlin “pistons Bad boys”

  • brother brown

    brother brown he is in my town
    its brother brown hes got those jordan 9.5 which are brother browns

  • http://slamonline.com/contests D-rek

    oj, reppin USC, could go 2 ways, all out , or all down

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  • fanofthegame

    So I guess in hindsight I was dead right with what I said about Mayo and Guillory?

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