To say it has been trying year for O.J. Mayo is a vast understatement. The former lottery pick was handed a two-year ban from the NBA for failing a drug test, a harsh fall from grace for a player once considered the next LeBron James. But sometimes the hardest of falls incites the most visceral of responses. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, Mayo opened up about his path back to the NBA and his desire to play for a former employer: the Milwaukee Bucks.
Mayo spent his last three NBA seasons with the Bucks, but gradually got worse and worse in nearly every statistical category. Despite the tumultuous tenure, Mayo still says he wants to come back. “I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo says to Golliver. “I was real close with Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [Dwaine Barnes]. Barnes is Mayo’s former AAU coach and role model, going so far as to call him “his grandfather”. “I had great relationships with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris Middleton,” Mayo continues. “I was comfortable there. I felt like I let them down, cheated them for two years. They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a subpar player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my s—, and when you’re not on top of your s—, it shows. I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”