Inspired by our own Hamed Haddadi's trip to the zoo, it's time to take a completely fictitious look at what other members of the Memphis Grizzlies will be doing during their respective summer vacations. If you have suggestions as to who should be covered next, please feel free to leave those in the comments. First up is O.J. Mayo.
O.J. Mayo needed a change of scenery. Not forever, but for awhile. This is why he’s ended up in Nova Scotia for the summer. He’s rented the top portion of a lighthouse that hasn’t been in operation since 1959. It consists of a single bed, an elevated tree stump for use as a table, and a splintered wooden chair. There, alone with his thoughts and devoid of a lighthouse’s trademark rotating beacon of light -- Mayo is a light sleeper and this just wouldn’t do -- he’s going to get some thinking done. Every morning, he’s going to amble down the stairs to a kitchen made up of a gas stove and an icebox. It’s an icebox, not a refrigerator. He’s going to throw some organic coffee beans into one of those antique grinders and read through a list of selected novels including A Room With a View, The Call of the Wild, The Sun Also Rises, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while waiting for the water to boil. The list goes at least 35 strong, and he’s not stopping until he’s done. Also, there's a library in town in case he runs out.
After a breakfast consisting of fresh local farm eggs in either scrambled or omelette form and whey pancakes for strength, Mayo will hike and kayak the area’s pristine postcard-ready terrain. He’ll take his bicycle the 14 miles into town when he needs replenishments and shaving cream. There, the locals will smile and say "Hello," knowing they should probably maybe know who this man is, but they can’t quite put their finger on it. His name’s right on the tip of their tongues, they’ll say. Mayo doesn’t mind. Actually, he prefers the solitude. The escape from the small market of Memphis, where, of course, everybody knows his name and his game, is a welcome one.
In Nova Scotia, he’ll kayak more than he hikes because he thinks a strict zero tolerance of mountain climbing is one of the clauses in his contract, and he’s not sure where the line between hiking and mountain climbing is drawn, but he’s sure it’s blurred. Out on the kayak that he rents for a week at a time, Mayo will paddle slowly. Not for speed or for endurance; rather, almost only when he has to, to keep his momentum going forward. He’s heard that if one stops paddling a kayak altogether, they could flip over and fall into the water. Mayo knows how to swim and the water looks beautiful, but he’s not interested in a surprise dip. Who is? On hot days, he’ll consider diving in, but without an anchor or one of those little floating flags that signifies a diver’s presence beneath the surface, he just doesn’t think it’s worth the risk or the time it would take to either fashion or discover an anchor.
It will be during these times out on the kayak more than any other that the thoughts will seep into his head. Could he have done more? What, exactly, went wrong, mechanically-speaking, with his shot in his analytical mind during the first round of the playoffs? Was he launching himself directly upwards on his jumpers, or was he drifting one way or the other? Could he have shot more? Less? Should he have more strongly assumed the playmaking role the Memphis Grizzlies sometimes desperately needed during their seven game tango with the Los Angeles Clippers? Was he, not Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, the real reason for their first round departure? Was he just being too hard on himself, as he was simply playing in the role that’s been carved out for him? Would anything more have been too much?
O.J. Mayo only packed one suitcase for the summer. Mostly swim trunks and loose-fitting Hawaiian shirts mixed in with a button-up flannel and a pair of sweatpants for the chilly nights. He also brought a bathrobe because it makes him feel just a tad more distinguished sometimes. In this case he doesn’t mind living out of suitcase. It’s exactly what he wanted. But far too often for his liking he’s been living out of a suitcase, figuratively speaking -- Mayo is not about to leave his clothes sitting in a suitcase if he didn’t want to or it wasn’t absolutely necessary -- over the last few years. A few times he almost found himself in Indiana. Ironically, he’d still be playing basketball at this point in this season if he were a Pacer. But Mayo feels a kinship with his Grizzlies brethren in Memphis, he believes in what they’ve started, and though he’s not always sure how to properly show it on the court, he feels as though his best is still ahead of him.
O.J. Mayo will run through the gambit of self-reflecting introspections as he stares at himself on the surface of an almost untouched body of water beneath his rented kayak, a "No. 12" spray-painted in black on its red plastic side as a reminder of its temporariness, and that, apparently, there’s 11 other rented kayaks in Nova Scotia somewhere. He hasn’t seen a single one other than his. He wonders where they are and who’s renting them. He thinks that, although they’re temporary, their home is where they are now. O.J. Mayo can relate.