Monday, May 7, 2007

He Doesn't Pronounce It the Same Way That She Pronounces It

Our hearts always get warm when an old name sneaks back into the news. Last week it was JamesOn Curry.

JamesOn grew up in a mobile home along a North Carolina state highway. But he could stroke the J and had random capitalization. Before long, scouts from UNC to NOTY were raining down on the 6-3 guard like turmeric in chicken shashlik. The Tar Heels signed JamesOn. We gave him a No. 11 seed in the Bitterbeetle Regional.

JamesOn was worthy, for sure. UNC liked his long arms, big hands, and 40.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. We liked that he had it going both ways. And his creative construction—JamesOn combines the names of his uncle, James, and his father, Leon. And his midword capital letter. And his pronunciation—james-on, as in, James full stop On full stop. And the tasty treat on the back end.

If he’d only stuck with the recipe, the leading scorer in North Carolina high school history might have been following in the Nikes of Jordan and another James. Instead, in his senior year, Curry got involved with a different kind of herb:

Before dawn, law enforcement officials from two towns and the county sheriff's office had a magistrate sign arrest warrants for 50 students at five high schools. Curry was among them, charged with six felony counts of possessing marijuana and selling it on school grounds.

The reaction from those who knew Curry was nearly uniform: Not him, not the kid who, his father said, "came home with a basketball pacifier in his mouth." No way.

Way! Curry pleaded out. But Roy Williams’s scholarship offer to JamesOn went ClangOn the iron.

Fortunately, there exist in higher education charitable souls prepared to give ``second chances’’ to ``troubled’’ young ``kids.’’ At NOTY, we don't discriminate based on past behavior either. Right on schedule, JamesOn joined both Oklahoma State and a strong NOTY class that included fellow D-I prospect Tanqueray Beavers. Beavers won the 2005 NOTY Tournament, was killed the next year in a shooting at a T.G.I. Fridays and was recently inducted into the Hall of Name. JamesOn finished 31st—tied with Mayo Stuntz, another good food name—and averaged 17.3 points per game for Mother Theresa-like coach Eddie Sutton last season.

So we—as well as his we-wish-we-knew-the-derivation-of-their-names-too sisters LeConnda (LeBron, Condoleeza and Wanda?) and Tomosha (Tom and ... Kenosha? Tommy Moe and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi?)—were saddened to learn that JamesOn had been omitted from the NBA draft early entry list last week despite having met the deadline. Another legal mishap? A ruling by NBA Commissioner David Stern that random capitalization sends the wrong message to new parents?

The NBA just lost the paperwork. We understand. Close readers of the NOTY Archives might notice that in 1995, we lost the ballots.