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Goodbye, Javion Hamlet

Javion Hamlet announced his future in the professional ranks of hoopers.

(You may have noticed) that MGN took a little break after the tournament. We had to pause and reassess what it was that we just saw. NT went on a legendary run and I was thinking about what being legendary really meant.

I read about Gonzaga’s Sunday Ball tradition led by true legend John Stockton. I thought about how college hoopers (men and women) can probably be making a lot more money than they are currently are. I thought about how Javion Hamlet is going to be legendary to the Mean Green Nation for a long time.

I hope Ham makes $105 million+ in his career and wins a couple of championships in the NBA or overseas. He has the mental materials to grind it out and make the most of his talents — and he has plenty of talent. There are challenges, of course. The same ones that meant he ended up at North Texas over the blue-blood programs that would have fought over his services if he were obviously an NBA lock. That is the beauty of the game and the sport and why we love it. You have to play the games and compete and see who actually wins on the floor after the sweat and blood have been spilt.

WKU signed Charles Bassey three or four seasons ago and got Josh Anderson and already had Taveion Hollingsworth. North Texas had a decent little squad but no one was pencilling in NT for the post season tournaments or picking them in their blogs or anything like that. In the end, Javion Hamlet led his team to two titles, and an NCAA Tournament win.

He belongs on the UNT Hall of Fame, and in 10 years when we are all a little older, we will look back and talk about the time that Hamlet crossed over the Purdue guy and went on an incredible run in the CUSA tournament to win little old NT a championship banner.

I do not like the prevailing tendency in sports fandom to side on the part of management. It seems (particularly in NBA fandom) that the people that follow the sport do not actually like the sport. When we start talking about assets and pieces and building a roster with shooters and bigs and wings it can be impersonal and loses the human connection. It can lead to watching your favorite team with a detachment that at best delays enjoyment until it reaches optimal “efficiency”.

Sure, cold decisions need to be made. At some point you have to fire an underperforming coach and determine what the hell underperforming means in the first place. After reasonable expectations are set, the rest is humans doing incredible, dramatic things. The underlying appeal of basketball is the drama of human competition. You have to let yourself care.

Javion Hamlet obviously cares. He did not take the cool analysis of his game, his ability, and used the opportunity to accomplish more than what was expected.

His career numbers — 59 games, 15.1 PPG, 3.4 TRB, 4.6 AST on 46.1% shooting are nice. They are not extraordinary. The real value was that he scored when it mattered — 2nd halves, overtime, conference tournament, title game, NCAA first round — and that is what makes him a legend.