We are getting close now, my friends. In honor of being 24 hours away from the annual exhibition tune-up against a lesser foe, I felt the need to share the tale that was never told. The story of how John Crosby stayed at UD.
Let me set the scene for you.
It was a brisk Dayton night in early May, students had just gone home for the year, campus was eerily quiet. I texted the future NBA All-Star about dinner that night. He wasn’t busy, had no intention of heading home to Baltimore until the next evening, “Let’s talk” he said. Indeed.
I asked John Crosby to meet me at the Pine Club, the Dayton mecca of shady business deals and under-the-table cash transactions. A staple for decades as far as bringing the community together over a fine meal and unethical business in virtual darkness was concerned. The scene inside the restaurant that evening set the tone for why we were there. Dark days, uncertain days, John wanted to transfer from the old U of D. I gave the waitress a twenty and she set us up with a good table, sensing this was bigger than just us.
I ordered a Yuengling, John asked for an apple juice. I didn’t pass judgment, no need to derail what was on our minds. The drive from Chicago had me anxious to get down to business anyways.
“John why are you transferring, man? You know there’s no better place to be than UD. Have you SEEN all these white women? I mean, c’mon.” I could tell John was shocked I wasn’t wasting any time.
“Because you hurt my feelings, Sully, You trashed me on the blog all season. It trickled down. Girls wouldn’t touch me, the bouncers wouldn’t let me into Tim’s, the cafeteria workers wouldn’t even give me warm food. I think I’ve just had enough.”
“But, John, you weren’t good at doing basketball-related things last year. Some would even say you were terrible.” I was speaking loud enough that other patrons were beginning to glance our way. Crosby rubbed his temples.
“I know, Sully, I know, and now I think I gotta bounce back somewhere else.”
“But, John, where? I don’t think any CAA teams around Maryland are looking for a point guard of your caliber. Just bad luck this year.”
John took a sip of his apple juice and glanced towards the door. The realization, and weight, of what I said threw him deep into thought.
“Sully, I think you’re right,” Crosby nearly whispered. “Fuck Towson. What I have here is my chance at redemption, to prove all the haters wrong. God has me motivated to take my moment.” Crosby knocked his fork off the table while his arms were gesticulating wildly.
“I’m not sure what that last part has to do with anything, but, sure, John! Yes! Prove those people wrong, folks who simply gave an accurate description of your overall usefulness last season. It’s what you were born to do!”
I reminded John that if he left UD he would never truly have the vindication of making me eat my words from last season. I asked him if that was a burden he could live with. He glanced towards the door once more.
“That weight would be too heavy, Sully, I have unfinished business here n Dayton that the Lord has prepared me for. I’m ready to prove douchebags like you wrong. I’m staying In Dayton.” John was studying my face, gauging my reaction. I sipped my beer and pretended not to hear him. Was I doing this guy a favor or a disservice?
The door to The Pine Club swung wide open. Sam Miller and Matej burst through the door, singing a drinking song in what I presumed was another language. Sam has no shirt on and a tie around his head, pants stained with urine. John put his head down as to not be recognized.
“Fuck, not Sam again.”
Immediately the wait staff, as if they had done this countless times before, grabbed a broom and shooed Sam out the door. It was the last time I ever saw him. He went into the deep, dark night of Dayton and the rest, unfortunately, is history.
Matej sat in the back corner by himself, a half empty vodka bottle on the table told me he had a long night ahead of him. We digress.
Crosby cleared his throat and leaned in closer. He spilled the basket of bread the waiter dropped of a mere minute ago, ignoring it completely.
“But how do I go about proving the haters wrong, Sully?” I could tell he was asking with all sincerity, for maybe the first time all night.
“Well, John, you need to start with having a turnover ratio better than one to one. I’m not sure if you know, but 39 assists and 34 turnovers through the course of a season really sucks, man! And that patented jump through the lane without purpose? Let’s just never do that again, it’s given many older Dayton residents diarrhea and night sweats.”
“But the George Mason game, Sully! What about that night?!” Crosby said with a smile.
“You mean that February throwaway game against an A10 bottom feeder? Ya, man, magical stuff. Let’s talk about the eight games last year in which you logged at least eight minutes and didn’t score at all.” Crosby sat back, a frown plastered on his face. He shrugged.
“Haters always wanna talk about those games, man!”
I reminded young John that this is the cycle of being a college point-guard. The sweaters/UDPride and BBR will be happy to rub your feet after good hoops-doing, but even quicker to remind you of the foul stench coming from your jersey after a loss. John, always the philosopher, once again took a sip from his near-empty apple juice, finally had this to say:
“I know God got me, so I practice patience.” Crosby crossed his arms, clearly pleased with himself.
“I still don’t know really what that has to do with anything, John, but I practice patience as well, and it is patience I can promise you this season.”
The waitress came over, John ordered chicken fingers and fries off the kids menu, we broke bread, concluded business and made the collective decision to move forward — for the good of Dayton basketball. (In case the NCAA is reading this article, we split the check, John paid for his own dinner, I did as well.)
And thus concludes the saga of that faithful May evening in Dayton, Ohio. For months, questions have been swirling around the prospect of UD’s season with John Crosby at the helm. He has assured us he is ready for the burden. So I ask you, reader of the BBR, to put aside the thoughts of John Crosby you have at this immediate moment. Forget about the 10pt/7ast effort against glorified D2 program VMI, put aside the breath-taking night of February 21st against George Mason, when John went 3 for 3 from downtown en route to 12 points and 5 assists. And please, put aside the last five games of the year after Mason – where John logged 32 minutes, 9 points, 3 boards, 2 assists and 1 turnover. Wipe the damn slate clean. John is done dicking around.
Crosby said it himself, it’s about goddamn time we started expecting him To Prove The Haters Wrong.
Get LOWD, stay LOWD. His first chance will be next Friday night.