August 27, 2008

Where Are They Now? VII (2008, POLITICS EDITION)

Typically, you get some Where Are They Now feature archived from the old Yahoo! site, around 2005-2006, bolstered with a 2008 update. Well, you know, somewhere between WATN Numbers 6 and 8 I forgot to do a number 7. Reading IS Fundamental, kids! So, to compensate for our demonstrated incapacity of counting to ten, just in time for the Party Conventions, here at Nasteedunx we’re inserting a fresh new Where Are They Now 7: Politics Edition.

Victim #7: Reggie Love


Yeahhhh… THAT Reggie Love. Chew it, swallow and digest that. Now, say it once more with me.


You Nasteedunx purists will point out that, technically, Mister Love doesn’t qualify for a WATN, since his personal shame-of-fame never took place on the hardwood. Or the blacktop. Not even the driveway. Nonetheless, ol’ boy shurrrr found a way to get teabagged. Pretty badly, in plain view for all posterity. So badly, in fact, he got kicked off the Duke basketball team by Coach Krzyzewski. Gosh, not even Greg “Green Tea” Paulus can claim that!

A 6’-5” Charlotte native and former All-American football player and North Carolina high school hoops player of the year, Reggie was an up-and-coming forward for the Duke Blue Devils, a walk-on for Coach K’s eventual 2001 championship squad. He was also a two-sport star, starting at wide receiver for Dookie football. Despite his emerging development and “Big Man on Campus” status , a spate of injuries sidetracked his ability to do either sport consistently.

One thing which the Cameron Crazies suggest, and the Lacrosse team confirmed, is that Duke athletes and their fans sure know how to party hardy. Reggie Love was no exception. Before heading back down Tobacco Road one night after a game in 2002, Love decides he’ll spend an evening away from the team at an NC State frathouse. And whether you’re in Rome or Raleigh, you do as the Romans do, y’know? Placing way to much trust in his newfound Wolfpack-in-Sheep’s-Clothing friends, he partook in the imbibing of a few adult-beverages-of-choice. Quite a few. More than enough to get a lil’ tipsy. Enough to leave him passed out, flat-assed-cold on some shoddy (Gawd-knows-what)-stained fraternity futon.

Now all throughout modern anthropology, college frat boys have been well known for embellishing outlandish personal stories where they dished out some measure of comeuppance to college jocks, especially when there were no witnesses to verify the story. For example, aided by just a little inebriation, one of my own frat brethren will be more than happy to share with you every detail of how he allegedly dropped knobs with Rick Fox after a run-in one Sunday morning during a drinking-buddy trip to Chapel Hill. It’s something I suppose he thought was at least remotely feasible and, to somebody not named Vanessa Williams, impressive. Anyway, it’s always convenient to tell the tale when there’s nobody with a tape or a photo or some scintilla of proof. But get a picture or two, and it becomes really hard not to blab to any fool who’ll listen. It’s even harder in the new millennium, when you can spread the embarrassment worldwide via the World Wide Web with little effort at all. All those in the collegiate world who weren’t familiar with the usage of “teabag” as a verb, were now simply two clicks from viewing Reggie Love as Exhibit A.

The news of the ‘bagging incident spread like wildfire through the Piedmont, in Raleigh, Winston-Salem and especially Chapel Hill. The timing couldn’t have been any worse back in Greensboro for Love, as he was just explaining his way out of an Underage Driving While Intoxicated charge from the previous fall to the athletics department and the (legal) courts. Mortified by the dual displays of poor judgment, Coach K had enough, suspending Reggie indefinitely for a “Violation of Team Rules.” What was not crystal clear right away to those who reading newspapers about the suspension was, by that time, thoroughly unambiguous to those flooding college hoop chat rooms and message boards.

Reggie may have gotten banished from Duke hoops, but he wouldn’t leave the school without getting re-focused and snaring a bachelor’s degree in political science. He managed to stick with the talent-starved football team and led the Blue Devils in receptions in his senior year. Still NCAA-eligible, he was allowed to return to the basketball team in 2004, and through it all endured the kind of love on the road that only an ACC heckler can bring to the arena. Recognizing his innate leadership qualities, growth and maturity on and off the court, the ‘04-‘05 Blue Devils voted Reggie Love, bringing all of his 1.6 points per game to the table, as its team captain.

By the end of 2005, though, his hopes for a pro football career were dashed, following uneventful training camp runs with the Green Bay Packers (as a receiver) and Dallas Cowboys (as a Bill Parcells project at linebacker). Reggie found himself searching for a new lease on life, and a way, applying his poli-sci pedigree, to disassociate himself as best he could with the “politics of the past.”

Reggie Love realized he needed a change. Change He Could Believe In.

Enter a presidential candidate equipped with a wicked drop-step move and 20-foot range.

Latching onto Senator Barack Obama’s staff and his underdog campaign early on has put him in the catbird seat as the Democratic nominee’s right-hand man. He started out as a “staff assistant,” merely a mailroom hack. He would find out that, mostly due to superstitions and to relieve tension, the Junior Senator from Illinois loved to run ball on the day of major events like primaries. And in the mailroom, Obama found the perfect guy to break him off at the ankles and post him up in the paint. This mailroom guy came equipped with a Duke degree and sports connections like former Dookie Chris Duhon, who’d jump at the chance to play some 3-on-3 with a potential Baller-in-Chief. Obama’s “3-on-3 Challenge for Change” events drew rave reviews during the primaries.

Even more importantly, he found someone eager to perform the simple yet persistent deeds that come with being the designated “Body Man” for a presidential contender. Now Reggie Love has vaulted from the shadows of punchlines and crude-joke message boards to become the “feel good” political cover story of the New York Times.
“There’s no doubt that Reggie is cooler than I am,” Mr. Obama said, laughing, in a phone interview. “I am living vicariously through Reggie.” Mr. Love said he had been hired with “no job description whatsoever. It was just like, ‘You just go out there and — Take. Care. Of. Stuff,’” Mr. Love said, taking his time with each word.
Some of the “stuff” Mr. Love takes care of: When Mr. Obama makes calls to woo superdelegates, Mr. Love is at his side with a briefing book, dialing the numbers. When an outdoor speech ended on a windy day in Noblesville, Ind., he appeared behind Mr. Obama as he shook hands on the rope line. “Jacket?” he asked, a coat draped at the ready over his arm.

Mr. Obama often mentions that Mr. Love was a wide receiver on a football scholarship at Duke who also walked onto the basketball team. At a rally a few weeks ago in Mr. Love’s hometown, Charlotte, N.C., the candidate led the crowd in a chant of “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!”

Now with the Democrats coronating Obama, media outlets from ESPN to the major news networks to the papers back home in North Carolina all want to do feature articles on Barack’s “Body Man.”

Sure, the laughs (and a couple other items) were on him for awhile, but it looks to me like Reggie got the last laugh on all of us. Obama found an assistant who knows more than pretty much anybody his age about damage control and triumphing above shameful adversity. Besides, you probably couldn’t find a better person than Reggie to keep watch for B.O. I mean, seriously, who better to keep an eye out for a dude’s n*tsack? You know, in case Jesse Jackson comes calling?

Facializer #7: Kevin Johnson

Ah, yes, KJ. Come November, that might be Mayor KJ to you.

Back in the day, though, the diminutive point guard used big men as his personal platform. As Cleveland Cavalier super-sub John “Hot Rod” Williams could attest.

“I’m Kevin Johnson’s Jockstrap and I APPROVE This Message.” (Paid for by Hot Rod’s Dignity!)

And hey, what’s a good stump speech without a good stump… like 7-foot-3 Mark Eaton?

Or you could ask Hakeem Olajuwon if KJ would be the kind of mayor somebody like him could “look up to.” No doubt, “The Dream” still has nightmares over this jam, surely Baron Davis' inspiration for his comparable vault above AK-47 over a decade later.

KJ has parlayed a high-flying career short-circuited by injuries and his local-boy-makes-good persona into an urban redevelopment enterprise in his hometown of Sacramento, building a community development corporation (St. HOPE) he founded two decades ago. Remember the sleepy, flood-prone cowtown chided by Chris Webber and would-be NBA free agent signees as the place where Black social life and culture go to die? Well, he may have just enough pull to become the California capital’s first Black mayor.

He has the standard mayoral candidates’ wide-ranging platform: swatting back crime rates, boosting public school quality, attracting new jobs, “A City That Works for Everyone.”

Interestingly enough, and probably to his benefit, he has demonstrated a willingness to play chicken with Las Vegas’ Maloof Brothers over their demands for a new city-financed arena for their Sacramento Kings and Monarchs, in the same year Seattle’s Sonics skipped town for the prairies of Oklahoma. Might the Kings become the Vegas Stratospheres under hometown baller KJ’s watch? Time will tell.

He snared the most votes in the June primary, topping incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo, but got less than half the votes and will compete with her in a November runoff. Slightly tougher obstacles to climb than Hot Rod Williams are the politically-driven assaults, including three active sexual assault allegations (one closed-case from Phoenix back in 1995 is getting requests to be reopened at the behest of Fargo and her supporters), derelict landlord accusations, charges of anti-gay rights rhetoric, and the alleged abuse of Federal AmeriCorps money. But the centers who dared to jump with the 6-foot-1 guard will tell you, you can doubt Kevin Johnson’s abilities to overcome... but you do so at your own risk.


1 comment:

  1. Congrats to Kevin Johnson and (for obviously indirect reasons) Reggie Love for their respective campaign's big wins! Here's to hardcore pickup games at the White House... and Sacto City Hall!



What? What?