Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Because it's Basketball Season

If only he'd been just a bad boy off the NBA court, he'd be remembered as a great basketball player with two championships under his belt. On the court you loved him. He brought excitement, energy and total competition to the game. He could shoot the 3 pointer with a soft stroke and his defense was game altering. He once held Michael Jordan to 9 points total in a game. If you weren't around to see his act then you missed seeing a player who comes along once in an era. He was electrifying, he was tenacious and did I mention..........He Was in 51/50 MAD.

Vernon Maxwell, better known as Mad Max, played basketball in the NBA throughout the 90's and gave us fans one heck of a show. Love him or hate him you knew Mad Max would do something to make the game exciting. He was a great basketball player, but was also a walking time bomb on and off the court. He went into the stands to attack heckling fans long before Ron Artest was in the league. Maxwell just simply didn't have that filter in him to control his emotions. He didn't just wear his emotions on his sleeves, he came out swinging, cursing and spitting with them. Yeah, he spat into the stands too, a la Bill Romanowski. The moniker Mad Max fit him better than actor Mel Gibson who played the character in the movie. I suppose you could say he was the bad athlete of the future.

By the time he left the NBA in 2001 his personal life was in shambles. The sad thing is because Mad Max was so.......MAD........nobody seemed to be surprised or even care about his troubles off the court. As with most people who show signs of madness (schizophrenia) you remember analyzing the two opposite sides of them. Mad Max had a warm charm about him when all was well. He seemed to gel well with his teamates, well enough to win championships. But when his alter ego arose and his, for lack of a better fitting word, MAD button was pushed he went into MAX mode and was a monster. In MAX mode he could help his team take over a game and win, but if winning was out of reach it seemed all that pent up energy went into negative eruptive actions.

I'd like to remember the Mad Max who played good ball while keeping his emotions in check. As for that other side of Max, I hope he's found help for taming the monster inside. And it was a monster inside no doubt.

I went searching for a "Where is he now?" story on Mad Max and found nothing current. Figured he must be in jail or hopefully in rehab. Here are two write-ups that highlighted some of Mad Max's actions on and off the court:

Story #1

Story #2

Story #3

Story #4

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