A long time ago, before Rex Chapman was a Twitter star, he was a basketball player. He played for Charlotte, Washington, Miami and Phoenix. After he retired he was a scout and then Director of Basketball Operations for Phoenix. He was also the vice president of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets. He was basketball famous long before he was Twitter famous. Long before all of that, Rex was a high school basketball player in Owensboro, Kentucky. Owensboro is about 30 miles north of Beaver Dam, Kentucky, my hometown.
Rex was a basketball phenom when he was in high school. He was recruited by the major college basketball programs and signed with the University of Kentucky. Signing with UK made him an even bigger deal in the state of Kentucky. My high school did not have that star power on our boy’s basketball team. We had sparse attendance at most games. I will admit that I didn’t go to a lot of them, but I did attend when I could. Then Rex came to town.
Rex’s Apollo High team was scheduled to play our Eagles at our gym. Suddenly, the Ohio County High School gym was the place to be. Everyone wanted tickets to the game to see Rex play. Some students at the school were not happy at the hero’s welcome he was going to get and decided to give him a different kind of welcome. I’m old and forgetful and can’t tell you many details of the reception. I know there were likely signs and taunting. I’m petty sure I remember someone asking for his autograph and then chewing it up and spitting it out. Needless to say, we were not nice to him, but it pales in comparison to things you hear about today. I feel like it was just our way to show everyone that we were there to support our guys, not cheer on the famous enemy.
The principal of our school did not agree. I have a memory of having to write an essay on sportsmanship after the game. I don’t know if it was the entire school or if one teacher made us do it. I just remember writing something about how we shouldn’t be expected to give someone the key to the city because he was playing against us in basketball.
Of course, one Rex was at UK I was a big fan and followed his career in the NBA. I am happy to see that he has overcome his addiction issues and seems to be doing well. I was following him on Twitter long before he was Twitter famous and am amazed when I see so many celebrities retweetng him.
I still think he got what he deserved when he played against our team in high school.