And then: Oh, let
me try a one-and-one. I can handle it.
I had played well
on coke, I had played bad on it. It didn't seem to matter. So I did about a
quarter gram of blow before the national semifinal in the bathroom of room 135
of the Ramada Inn, about three miles from Rupp Arena.
In the locker
room I was all quiet and subdued. Everybody was saying, "You all right? You
all right?" I said, "Yeah, I'm with it. Let's do it. Let's do it."
But in the meantime I'd gotten it in my head that if we lost, it didn't matter.
I just wanted the season to be over. That was my attitude.
The next thing I
knew, Andre Turner, the Memphis State point guard, was kicking my ass in the
first half, being a pain. I couldn't move half the time because he was matching
every step I made. Luckily. I was able to gain control, and we were great as a
team. I played almost the whole game, made all five of my free throws and
scored nine points. We won 52-45.
I thought about
how crazy I had been to do coke before such a big game. I was scared. First of
all, how did we win? Second, how did I play like that? Third, so what? We were
there. In the finals.
It was time to
party again. The rest of my gram went that night. That was the last time I did
coke at the Final Four. Not that I wouldn't have done more if I could have. I
tried to get more and couldn't find any. I realized what drugs were doing to
me. but I couldn't do anything about it. Yet I still felt I could control
myself when I had to.
championship game I was walking around the locker room in my jockstrap, yelling
to everybody: "Yo, do you guys realize that 40 million of our home boys are
going to be getting———up while they're watching this game? Do you realize how
many quarts of beer that is? Do you realize how many pounds of marijuana are
going 'round? Do you realize how many pounds of cocaine are being
Ed Pinckney and
Dwayne McClain were saying, "Get out of here, man. Get out of here, Gary.
We don't need that now."
I was psyched out
of my brain because I knew I was going to crack Michael Jackson, Georgetown's
floor leader. This was the old Gary coming out. I wasn't high, but ready to do
phenomenal work out on the court. Nobody was going to take this away from me. I
was going out there in the best frame of mind ever.
We all played
well. And we all know what happened. We won 66-64, beating Patrick Ewing in one
of the greatest games ever. I was perfect, 3 for 3 from the field and 2 for 2
from the line. I was living my dream. To win. To be on TV afterward, talking a
lot. To achieve the respect in other basketball players' eyes I'd always
wanted. People from Hempstead used to say, "He ain't that good, man. I
don't know why he's playing." Well, that was okay. Now I could just say,
"I got my ring, buddy."