Mike Lazo wants you to know his name. What he probably doesn't want you to know is that he's a huge tool.
By now the majority of you have likely heard about the latest incident involving former Rose Hill Christian sensation OJ Mayo. Mayo was ejected from last Friday night's game between his Huntington High School team and Capital High School after he received two technical fouls from Lazo for taunting. Following the second technical foul, Mayo followed Lazo to the scorer's table, and then bumped him from behind sending the official to the ground. Mayo was then escorted off the court by a police officer as an incensed crowd hurled taunts at the disgraced superstar from the stands.
Under state athletics rules, the penalty for receiving two technical fouls in a game or being ejected from a game is a two-game suspension. A student who "in protest lays hands or attempts to lay hands upon an official" can be declared ineligible for up to a year. Mayo was suspended for two games and there was talk that he might never play another high school game.
Enter home video of the incident.
In this instance, OJ Mayo is a victim.
Now it can definitely be argued that the first technical foul was justified. Following a dunk, Mayo grabs the ball and struts for a few seconds before relinquishing it. Immature? Yes. Worthy of a T? Perhaps, but we've all seen far worse go unpunished.
Lazo made the split-second decision to blow the whistle, a noble move if his M.O. is to settle down a game that has the potential to get out-of-hand, but the video clearly shows this isn't the case.
See Lazo strut to the scorer's table in a manner eerily similar to that of the one that was the inspiration for his trek. For that brief moment Lazo was the star, he was OJ Mayo, and he didn't want to let it go.
Following the technical, players from both Huntington and Capital begin jawing at midcourt. Lazlo and the other officials come over to calm things down, and Mayo walks away and tucks his jersey in. Mayo then walks back towards the gathering at midcourt, does not appear to say anything, and Lazo blows the whistle that will ultimately lead to Mayo's ejection.
Watch Lazo during this approximately 10-second long period. His eyes never leave Mayo. He stands there with a whistle in his mouth and a look that hints at the debate raging in his mind.
"Should I do it? I'm going to do it. This punk needs to be taught a lesson. I'm going to do it right now. Show time."
Now the real fun starts.
Lazo rocks the Mayo strut back towards the scorer's table again, and as an understandably confused OJ follows him with arms outstretched, he takes a brief look back and sizes up the situation. Mayo is walking towards Lazo in a straight 90 degree angle while Lazo is walking at a slant, both towards the table and Mayo.
Lazo realizes he's nearing Mayo, and at the instant he feels the #32 Huntington jersey brush against his snazzy referee shirt, he goes down like Marco Materazzi.
According to Lazo, "As I turned my head towards him, he came in contact (with) me, causing me to fall to the floor. While I was on the floor, #32 was using profanity."
Aside from the fact that when he was on the floor (presumably still making sure that he could feel sensations in his lower body) he could pick out that it was Mayo using profanity and not the other five or six players around him, the most absurd part of Lazo's account is that he continually refers to Mayo as #32. A more accurate account would have shown Lazo referring to the player in question as "OJ Mayo, #32 for Huntington High who also starred at Rose Hill Christian and North College Hill, has committed to USC, and is widely considered the top prospect in these United States of America."
Lazo knew who Mayo was, in fact before the game he told Huntington head coach Lloyd McGuffin: "Mayo better not talk with me tonight because I'm not going to put up with him at all. He needs to keep his mouth shut."
Then later in the game as Mayo was telling his teammates to stay out of foul trouble during a huddle at the free-throw line, Lazo interrupted the meeting to tell Mayo that he needed to be worried about himself because he was going to get tossed "if he didn't shut up."
Minutes later Lazo did what he'd wanted to do since the tip; he ejected that pampered thug and was even lucky enough to be assaulted by him. Only there were people, and cameras, in the crowd that could confirm that this wasn't the case.
As much crap as the internet gets (some of it much deserved), it played a huge role in righting a complete wrong here.
A temporary restraining order was granted by a circuit judge yesterday that will allow Mayo to play in Huntington's game Friday night against Scott County, the top-ranked team in Kentucky. Without video posted for all to see, and subsequent word spreading on various message boards, justice may have very likely not prevailed.
There's no way to know for sure, but I have a very strong feeling that Lazo's official account of what transpired would have included some added details were this 1970.
"This official wanted to be the star of the show," said William Bands, a lawyer in Charleston who watched from the stands. "That resulted in a situation that could have cost Huntington High School and the state of West Virginia a once-in-a-lifetime honor, to win a mythical national championship."
Now Mayo is far from a saint, in fact he is in desperate need of some discipline and a mature level-headed mentor, but this incident only added fuel to the fire that has brought the 19-year-old to this state.
Mike Lazo is no different than the hoards of pathetic, blood-sucking sycophants that feed off of anyone over the age of 10 who can put a leather ball into a metal hoop more often than most. It's disgusting and it's ruining basketball, YOU Mike Lazo, are ruining basketball.
Sure the fans know who OJ Mayo is, the players know who OJ Mayo is, the coaches know who OJ Mayo is, and you know who OJ Mayo is. The difference is that you, along with your brothers in stripes, are supposed to be the only ones in the gym who can't act like you do. You get paid to treat everyone exactly the same, and you did the complete opposite.
You're a tool, you're a tool, you're a tool. Mike Lazo is a tool.