JMU’s Ray Goins on checkers, Instagram and Cleveland

Photos by Steve Helber/AP. That's Goins on the left.
Photos by Steve Helber/AP. That’s Goins on the left.

All I do anymore is blog about James Madison University athletics, so I can hardly avoid the news that forward Ray Goins — the same guy who screamed out that LeBron quote during a postgame interview — was engaged in a death-match checkers rivalry with his girlfriend — JMU point guard Tarik Hislop — and that when he beat her in Game 7 of a recent series he retired from the game and promised never to play her again in his natural-born life.

See, Hislop told one version of the tale to the local paper.

Really, any sort of losing turns Hislop grumpy, even checkers with her boyfriend, Rayshawn Goins,” Matthew Stoss reported.

“The last time we played, he beat me, so he won’t play me again,” Hislop told Stoss. “But I beat him like seven times straight before that.”

Sweet story. But possibly false. Call in the fact-checkers.

“That wasn’t a true story,” Goins told Mark Selig on the Dukes of JMU Modcast. “We play checkers and I was destroying her. I was destroying her in checkers. She couldn’t win a game. Who knows, it was unbelievable, I won so many straight. And she did a lot of practicing on the low. We wasn’t playing for a while, some weeks, so she did a lot of practicing.

“When I actually played her again, she was excited to play me, and I was wondering why, because she always lost,” he continued. “But she did tremendous practicing, and she focused a lot. She was locked in. So I actually played her a couple games, and I’m like yo? Me being cocky, knowing that I can beat her, I wasn’t really thinking about my moves that I should have made. I wasn’t locked in, you know what I mean? I kind of took it for granted, so she beat me a couple games. I’m like man, why? You ain’t gonna keep beating me.

“So we actually played a number of games, and she won some, I won some,” Goins went on. “But Game 7, I won. The last game — Game 7. No one ever remembers Game 6 or Game 5. All that matters is the champion. Kobe, Michael Jordan, the greats, I put myself in that category when it came to checkers with her, and I actually beat her the last game….[So] I retired man. I retired the champ. Enough said. And I’m never gonna play her again. We’re gonna take that to our grave. And she understands that. And she hates it….The biggest thing is that I’m the champ. I won Game 7. Michael Jordan. And I told her I was gonna get that cleared up, too, because I feel like she threw me under the bus and she didn’t give the true story.”

That is the longest story about a relationship checkers rivalry I’ve ever heard. Now, for the longest story about why a collegiate athlete refused to start an Instagram account that I’ve ever heard. This happened after Goins told Selig that bus trips are mostly filled with players staring at Instagram on their phones.

“Me personally, I don’t have an Instagram, and that has a lot to do with me in the classroom,” Goins said. “I just feel like Instagram wasn’t the best thing for me at this moment, by me being in a position to graduate in May. And I know how I would be in class, I would just be in class just strolling all day, not listening to nothing the teacher says. So I told myself that after I get this degree, I’m gonna get me an Instagram, but I had to definitely discipline myself. As much as I see them on Instagram, it’s like an all non-stop  type of thing. Three in the morning, you wake up in the morning to use the bathroom, you’re strolling in on Instagram to see what you’re missing out on.

“So I just told myself I didn’t want to be in that position,” Goins said. “I told y’all I didn’t have a Twitter because it’s taking up a lot of time in your life. Right now, a lot of people are doing the least amount of activity because of technology. So I told myself that I wasn’t going to get a Twitter for a long time. I got one, and when I first got a Twitter I was addicted. I thought I was missing out on everything when I wasn’t  tweeting or wasn’t strolling. So I actually don’t have an Instagram. Most of my whole team does.”

You will likely hear more about Goins in coming days — about his tough upbringing, multiple schools, former 300-pound frame, season-long 2012 injury and so on. Goins plays at 6-foot-6, and said he would be “a problem child” in professional basketball if he were just two inches taller. Selig previously published a lengthy look at Goins’s path to Harrisonburg. And the pair also talked about his background before the checkers and the Instagram stuff.

I was one of them bad kids,” the forward said. “No one really could tell me anything coming from a school standpoint. I was one of those students that the teachers would tell me I would be dead or in jail. All the time I just sit back and laugh man just because. I came a long way. I came from nothing. This is a blessing from God, man. I just want to make the most of it….I had to go the hard way. I went the JUCO route. It’s a jungle man, a lot of kids don’t make it out, and fortunately I made it out…. Coming from where I came from, I went against the odds. I made it out. Because it’s tough back at home. And it’s nothing good coming out of Cleveland.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | March 13, 2013