For as much as we talk about college basketball players getting the short end of the amateurism stick -- and of course they do -- let's not forget just how awesome being a big-time college basketball player could be. For one, it's college, which is awesome in and of itself. But there's also the ancillary benefits: the popularity, the adulation, the attention from ladies, the minor celebrity status among a group of your peers who genuinely feel a unique and unbounded connection with you and your performance on the court ... and, of course, the love you feel when you get a pedicure.
Or maybe that's just former Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. Waiters, who is a possible lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft, is chronicling his adventures in a diary for Dime Magazine. In his first entry, Waiters discusses his game and his decision, but the best passage involves the love he felt on campus and, yes, in his favorite local pedicure shop. True story:
It was hard to leave Syracuse though. That’s one of those times where just the love and support that you get, you can’t go anywhere in Syracuse without people recognizing you. Everybody knows you. Everybody knows. It felt good to be loved and knowing that every day or every time you’re on the court, you will find a kid in Syracuse who watches you out there chasing your dream. So like I said, I’m really rich when it comes to the Dome with 30,000 fans. On even a regular game, you’re going to have 25,000 fans. The support is crazy along with everything else. That’s what made my decision harder though. That’s why I took longer to decide what I was going to do.
When I would go to the mall in ‘Cuse and get a pedicure or something, get my feet done, people would be walking by just staring at you, taking pictures. It would be awkward a little bit but at the end of the day, it was all love.
All love, indeed. That sort of adulation is hard to replicate, especially for an NBA rookie who doesn't excel immediately. Fans might recognize you, but they rarely identify with you, and they certainly don't love you.
In any case, I'm more excited to receive the following visual: Dion Waiters at a neon-lit mall shop, sitting in a chair with cotton swabs between his toes, waving and smiling as Syracuse fans snap cell-phone photos. How have none of these pictures made it to the Internet? And is Waiters a paraffin man? Does he prefer the stone treatment? Will he still get his feet done at the local mall when he's making NBA money?
In any case, when Carmelo Anthony says things like "We were the Beatles up there," I can only assume this is what he means. Ah, college.