I suddenly find myself watching an NBA game for the first time in my adult life.
I rationalize it as a combination of the home team playing well, a 7th game sudden death situation, and the fact that Mario West has been coming off the bench for the Hawks to play defense against Dwayne Wade.
The AJC had a great picture earlier this week that showed Mario reacting to a big defensive play against Wade. Some of the talking heads around the internet made noise about how West should act like he’s been there before or that he was over reacting.
I don’t think so…
Remember, West came to Georgia Tech as a walk-on, earned playing time as a defensive specialist who gave 110% every possession, quickly became a crowd favorite, and then became a veteran leader and senior team captain on a team that needed one badly.
Becoming a starter on an ACC team after arriving on campus as a walkon is one thing…but West took it a step further when he showed superior athleticism on the way to winning the March Madness dunk competition as a senior.
But he still wasn’t done…securing a roster spot with the Atlanta Hawks despite being a non-drafted free agent.
The walk-on from Douglasville was suddenly an NBA player…getting paid for the same things that made him a crowd favorite and a success at Georgia Tech…tenacious defense, fearless athleticism, and more raw desire than any two players I’ve ever seen play basketball at Georgia Tech or elsewhere.
There are several well known Yellow Jackets in the NBA right now…but I have the most fond memories of Rio.
Go Hawks! Go Mario!
With a 49-36 lead at the half…things are looking good for Rio and the Hawks!