Derrick Chievous settles into a booth at the G&D Pizzeria, the closest thing to New York City one can find in Columbia, Mo., and orders a seven-ounce sirloin, a side of ranch toast and two glasses of iced tea, into which he empties 25 individual packets of white, refined, death-before-your-time sugar.
"I love sugar," says the high-scoring, board-pounding forward for the University of Missouri Tigers. "Ten Twinkies and I'm energized. Then, once I'm up and all the sugar's gone, I go into down syndrome. Listen to some records, old-time records. I was born after my time. I should have been born in the Cooley High days, with the shoo-bop-de-bops and the ooh-baby-babies."
A waitress soon brings another iced tea, which Chievous fortifies with the last of the sugar packets. Then he rattles on about the Tigers, whom he has led to an 8-5 start: "They got in on me late, so when I came here everybody thought they'd dropped a Lamborghini on me. I wish they had. Doing all that work, spending all that time—practicing every day, diving for loose balls...." The sugar is just taking effect.
About the media, of which he considers himself a member, he says: "I'm beginning to wonder if they think I'm ugly. They can't even hook me with a picture. My mother says, 'Oh, but they wrote something nice about you.' But no picture. And you see these monsters on the magazine covers—soooooo appealing."
About the "Aaaaargh!" he'll bellow on the court, where forward isn't just what he plays, but what he is: "I do it to get the foul call. Hey, reffing's a hard job."
Having ordered some tea yourself—and realizing that you had better sweeten it, too, if you hope to keep up—you reach for the glass canister on the table that, in the dim light, looks to be an auxiliary sugar supply. And just when you've grasped it, and raised it and tipped it....
Who exactly is this young man so off in the ozone he can distract you into pouring Parmesan cheese into your tea, yet so down to earth that, at the last instant, he can stop that calamity from occurring? And who could, if you happened to be dispatched to the Show-Me state to tell all about a Tiger of a different stripe who scores (24.8 points per game) and boards (8.8) and spends half his time at the foul line and the other half contriving ways to get there, even write your story for you?
Hello, sweetheart. Get me rebound.
Derrick Chievous is a 6'7", 187-pound junior interested in journalism and radio and TV communications. When on the court, Chievous sports a Band-Aid, which is his trademark and also his nickname. Chievous acquired the nickname when he was in junior high in New York City. A cut was opened above his right eye by a flying elbow, and it took a while to heal. Band-Aided, he scored 45 points in the next game. He then took to wearing a Band-Aid all the time, and it just stuck with him.