It’s a much deserved Spoon Night at Green Coliseum tonight

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland

Southern Miss had just been defeated by North Carolina State in the first round of an NCAA Tournament game at College Park, Md. It was the last game of Clarence Weatherpoon’s college basketball career.

I don’t remember how many points he scored, but it was a bunch. I don’t remember how many rebounds he got, but they were plenty, too. I remember that USM lost handily in spite of Spoon’s remarkable efforts.

But here’s what I do remember most. None of the Mississippi media contingent could file their stories or reports until talking to Spoon. After all, the greatest player in the history of the school had just played his last game.

So we waited, and waited, and waited. No Spoon.

Turns out, selected players had to be drug tested after every NCAA Tournament game. Spoon had been selected. Never mind that quite possibly of all the players in college basketball, Spoon might have been the least likely to test positively for drugs.

Rules were rules. He had to pee in a cup, and he had nothing left to give. Literally.

He couldn’t do the post-game press conference until he urinated into a cup. They kept giving him water and Gatorade. He drank bottle after bottle.

Finally, about 90 minutes after the game, he peed. And we got our interview and wrote our columns.

I tell this story now, because it says so much about the competitor and player Spoon was. For four seasons at USM and then 13 in the NBA, he gave it all he had to give for every second he was in a game.

He did not take plays off.

In my mind, he is the greatest basketball player in USM history: a four-time All-Metro Conference, three-time Metro Conference Player of the Year back when the Metro rivaled any conference in the land. Hall of Famer Nick Revon was a fabulous player. So was Hall of Famer Wendell Ladner. But Spoon did more against better competition than any player who ever wore the black and gold.

Tonight is Clarence Weatherspoon Night at Green Coliseum.

He deserves it.

He deserves a prolonged standing ovation, just not quite as long as it took him to take that needless drug test all those years ago…

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