I have no idea what Major Wingate's draft prospects are, or whether he'll be invited to any training camps or summer league rosters or whatnot. I have no idea exactly what happened before the big man got booted from Tennessee; there was at least one failed drug test, and at least one drug test that was skipped and thus counted as a failure, and a suspension, and I'll let Wingate pick up the story at that point.
"I ended up getting in a fight my senior year, that summer, and that's when they kicked me out," he said recently. "It was right before school started in August. Just being out too late. Nothing good's gonna happen if you're out past 1, 1:30. I was dropping my teammate off at a club, I was leaving, talking to one of my friends. It was her birthday so I was buying her and her boyfriend some beer and going back to my house, and some guys start shoving me and stuff. So I'm thinking, 'I'm already suspended, I don't need this, I'm going home.'
"So I leave my friend, my homegirl and her boyfriend walked me to the car, but we didn't leave right away. So after they left I was standing outside, just talking on the phone and everything, and the same two guys came up started trying to fight me. But they didn't do anything to me; one guy ended up in the hospital, I never heard about the other guy. But I'm the one that got kicked out, and everybody saw that I didn't do anything."
So that's his side of that. Anyhow. I'm inclined to liking Major Wingate, because he used to wear gold teeth. And because after he got kicked out from Tennessee, after he left his team in Greece because he hadn't gotten paid in 36 days, and after he wound up playing professionally in Turkey, he grew a mohawk, to make his teammates laugh. And because he loves pork, and he realized when he got to Turkey "it was nowhere around," which is one of the reasons he never wants to go back to Turkey. And because he went to the bazaar in Turkey and discovered the diamonds were incredibly cheap, so he came home with four pairs of diamond earrings. And because he discovered one restaurant he liked called "Ishkander" (?), and he started going there four times a week, and by the end the owners would bring him his food as soon as he walked in the door: "bread and lamb and some red sauce."
And because of his explanation for the teeth and the mohawk and the rest.
"I don't like being serious all the time," was the explanation. "The world's too serious already. There's no need to be serious all the time. You've gotta have fun. You don't know when your'e going to leave this earth."
As for his prospects, he had eight scheduled workouts, including one with the Wiz. When I talked with him, he said the personnel people had already asked him about his past, and he expected he would continue to field those questions.
"I'm just here to try to prove myself and make everybody know that I feel like I belong," he told me. "I've got a little bit more extra baggage than everybody else here, because I know I made a mistake, but at the same time I learned form it."
"More than one mistake," I suggested, referring to the failed test, and the skipped test, and the suspension, and the fight.
"I think that all rolls into one," he said with a smile.
I asked what he would do if the NBA thing doesn't work out, which, let's be honest, it probably won't, because it doesn't work out for most people.
"I hope it does," he said. "But if not, I'll be back overseas....I just have to hope that I don't wind up in Turkey."
Anyhow, I wouldn't complain if he winds up spending a bit of time with the Wiz, and growing a mohawk, and bringing back the gold teeth, and the rest.