Last night, Cezar Guerrero did something I didn't think was possible right now - he overshadowed the football program. It may have only been for a few hours, but there was a magical time at about 9:30 last night where more OSU fans were focused on basketball than on our #2 football team. This is what the program needs, transcendent athletes. Can Cezar, and possibly Le'Bryan Nash, become transcendent and bring basketball passion back to the Oklahoma State fanbase?.
In all the talking and complaining that has been done over the past few seasons about attendance at the basketball games continuing to decline, I haven't heard anyone mention what I believe is the main cause of this. Most theories have pointed to the rise of the football program, the unceremonious exit of the Suttons, the hiring of an "outsider", and lack of success as the culprits for this fall off in interest... and sure, all of these are factors. But all of this could have happened in 1999 and we still would have gone to the games. Why? Because we did not want to risk potentially missing something special from Desmond, Doug and Joe. The thing these last 4 years or so have been lacking as much as anything is exciting players that the fans latch on to. A player or two that transcend wins and losses, that fans indentify with, and that people can't wait to get to GIA to watch play (or even just warm up).
While James Anderson, Obi Muenelo, and Marshall Moses were great Cowboy players, they weren't particularly dynamic. You were never worried that you might miss something special if you went to the concession stand while they were playing . I would say the last guy we had that was transcendent like this was JamesOn Curry, and he left 5 seasons ago (I would listen to a case for Eaton, but I always felt the fanbase was torn on him). Could Cezar and Le'Bryan reach this transcendent level?
First, what makes a basketball player transcendent? I think they have to have 2 qualities.
- They have to be capable of doing something on the court that is instantly exciting. Something that can come out of nowhere and turn a game around. Some examples:
Dunking ability - Desmond Mason
Flurry Scoring - Adkins, Curry, Baker, Graham, Allen, Lucas were all capable of a quick scoring flurry that either stretched a lead or brought us back from a deficit.
High Energy - Victor Williams, Gottlieb, Andre Williams. Typically non-scorers who could up the tempo, apply defensive pressure, and bring an energy to the team that would spur a nice run.
- They have to be relatable to us as fans. We need to see emotion on the court. We need to see them enjoying themselves when things go well and to be fired up and possibly pissed off when things weren't going well. We want to see some semblance of our fan emotions being expressed through the athletes mannerisms, expressions, and play.
Back to the entire topic of this post, could Cezar and/or Le'Bryan leap to this transcendent level and bring a bunch of disenfranchised Oklahoma State basketball fans back to GIA? If last night is any indicator, Cezar is already there. Don't want to miss a second of action when he is on the court... check. Shows emotion, plays to the fans, makes us love him... check (times 20).
I have heard plenty of detractors today saying "it was only UTSA". If you really believe this, you are perpetuating the attitude that has lead to this attendance and interest drop off, and you are a borderline bad fan. After all, it is only UTSA, why should anyone go to that game? Every game matters, every game is a big deal because it is Cowboy Damn Basketball and 6 years ago we were pumped up about every freaking game that we were lucky enough to witness. We didn't become the rowdiest arena in the country because we sat in our living rooms and said "pfftt... it's only UTSA". It's our job as much as it is Coach Ford's to bring the excitement back, and it starts with caring about every game. (yes this paragraph was off topic, but I have heard this like 10 times today and it was pissing me off)
So no, the rowdy is not back just yet, but I do believe that having an established transcendent player (Cezar), and one that is poised to have his breakout moment (Nash), is a huge step toward getting it back to the level we all want it to be at. I just hope that right now, everyone is as excited as I am for New York and what this exciting, albeit young and mistake prone, team can do while the nation is watching, and can't wait for the next opportunity to watch them on the white maple.