Bucks Lead

O.J. Mayo Wants to Return to Milwaukee

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Last summer, O.J. Mayo received a two year ban from the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policies. At the time, speculation ran rampant on social media over which drugs OJ was involved in that had caused the league to issue such a hefty punishment. Since then, he has admitted to smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that is on the NBA’s drug abuse list. Mayo has emphatically refuted claims that he ever tested positive for hard drugs, such as cocaine.

In the year since receiving the ban, O.J. has thought a lot about his life, his pro career, and the choices he made that brought him here – to a place he called rock bottom. The once highly touted recruit and lottery pick had been trending downwards on the court for the past few seasons, culminating in career lows of 7.8 PPG and 37.1% FG during the 2015-16 season, his final with the Milwaukee Bucks. He also suffered a broken ankle in March 2016 that led to him being out of shape, and unready to pursue professional opportunities overseas while waiting out the NBA ban.

Mayo acknowledges his own mistakes along the way; prioritizing his social life over getting in the gym, allowing his entourage to drain his time, and neglecting his responsibilities as a role model for the youth, including his own younger siblings. He cites a series of unfortunate events that weighed on him more than he would let show, including the imprisonment of his father, his brother being locked up in juvenile detention, and the death of a close friend.

It is true though that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Since being forced to stay away from the game he once loved, Mayo has recommitted himself to basketball. “I cheated the game for three or four years. I want to give my all back. I want to prove I’m a professional, low-maintenance guy.” Over the past few months, he has been in the gym regularly, falling back in love with the grind and the schedule of NBA life. Mayo has been working out with Bucks forward Tony Snell and Grizzlies forward James Ennis in Los Angeles.

What happens next for Mayo is where the plot thickens. He still has one year remaining on his ban. After July 1, 2018 Mayo will be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the league, dependant on proof that he has not failed any drug tests for a year prior to his reinstatement application. He is still signed with Landmark Sports Agency, but his old agent, Rob Pelinka, is now the Lakers’ GM. As for O.J.’s preference, he wants to come back to Milwaukee, the team he felt he cheated by allowing himself to fall so dramatically after signing a three year, $24 million contract with the Bucks.

“I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo said. “I was real close with Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [Dwaine Barnes]. I had great relationships with Giannis and Khris Middleton. I was comfortable there. I felt like I let them down, cheated them for two years. They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a subpar player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my shit, and when you’re not on top of your shit, it shows. I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”
I can’t speak for all Bucks fans, but I know that I would welcome O.J. back with open arms. If by the time he is reinstated he has proven himself worthy of a spot in the NBA, if his game is close to what it once was, and if he is ready to be a veteran leader for a team on the cusp of greatness – then Milwaukee is the spot for him. The Bucks locker room leader from last season, Jason Terry, still remains unsigned, and may be close to retiring.

We still have a year to wait to see if the Juice will be reinstated. But if Milwaukee is where he wants to be when that time comes, by all means, bring O.J. Mayo back to the Bucks.

About Preston Dubey

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