Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Man Crush

For weeks I've been telling you about my man crush for Kansas Senior PF Darnell Jackson. Apparently, we aren't the only ones. Don't miss this blog from the Mic Johnson of the Topeka Capital Journal.

Darnell Jackson: I have a Confession to Make

He hasn’t called me. He hasn’t sent me letters. He hasn’t texted me. I’ve never met him. I’ve never talked to him. I met his mom briefly a couple of years ago, but I’m sure she wouldn’t remember me. I’ve never had any direct interaction with Darnell Jackson, but I have a confession to make.

I have a man-crush on Darnell Jackson.

Let me explain this to you, but more importantly to my lovely wife of 15 years, Missy, who may not understand how a man-crush develops.

It’s been well documented that Darnell Jackson has been through quite a few difficult situations in his young life. We know that his mother and grandmother were in a car accident a couple of years ago. We know his mother was badly injured and his grandmother passed away.

We know about the booster/family friend that gave Darnell money in an effort to help him out in a difficult time. We know about the subsequent suspension that he had to serve. We can only imagine how difficult that was for him and how easily he could have responded to those challenges in a negative way.

Instead, Darnell Jackson took it like a man. He learned from it. He took those negatives and turned them into positives. When I watch him play, hear him talk, or read quotes from him, I can’t help but think of Darnell Jackson as a radiant butterfly bursting from its cocoon ready to embrace its new life. It’s a beautiful and inspiring site to behold.

The next time you watch a KU game, spend a little extra time watching Darnell Jackson. Watch how much fun he has on the court. See how his huge physique is now more lean and chiseled. See how hard he works. Pay attention to how he willingly accepts whatever role Bill Self wants for him, starter or 6th man, and excels in either role. Watch how teammates feed off of his intensity and envy the pure joy with which he plays the game.

This Jayhawk team has depth and loads of talent when you look down the names on the roster. Rush, Chalmers, Arthur, Collins, Kaun, Aldrich, Reed, Stewart and more. But the one player that can lead this team to the Final Four and National Championship is Darnell Jackson. He’s not the one the announcers always talk about. He’s not the one that is hyped when KU plays on national television. He’s not the one that everyone is talking about when discussing KU players going to the NBA after this season.

But he is the one that every player on the team looks up to. Darnell Jackson is a senior in college, but he is mature and wise beyond his age. When life hit him squarely in the jaw, it followed with a crushing blow to his midsection. But he kept fighting. He kept working. Now he’s having the best season of his college career. He’s having fun and he’s playing loose. The other Jayhawk players feed off of that and it’s amazing how dominating KU’s basketball team is when they play loose; when they follow Darnell’s lead.

I’m sure a lot of people that read this article will be tempted to poke fun at me for saying I have a man-crush on Darnell Jackson.

That doesn’t bother me one bit. I love what Darnell Jackson stands for and the role model he is for kids (and adults too) all across the country. I love the fact that Darnell Jackson has figured out that life is too short to not enjoy it. I love the enthusiasm with which Darnell Jackson is embracing the opportunity he has to play basketball for The University of Kansas. I love it that now some people are starting to talk about Darnell Jackson getting an opportunity in the NBA. I love it that Darnell Jackson is being rewarded for his hard work, determination and commitment.

Keep up the great work, Darnell. You are a joy to watch and this Jayhawk fan is extremely proud of the player, and the man, you’ve become.

Oh, and Darnell…call me sometime. Let’s do lunch. I’m available. (Just don’t tell my wife.)

Meanwhile, more KU love from ESPN's Andy Katz:

Ohio coach Tim O'Shea said Kansas is now his favorite to win the national title after the 88-51 drubbing he took from the Jayhawks last Saturday in Kansas City. "I must have been off my medication when I scheduled that one," O'Shea said. "Their second five could probably win 25 of the 31 conferences. I'm not sure how they're not favored to win the title. Everyone in their top 10 is going to play basketball at a high level." O'Shea added, "That's the most assembled talent of players I've seen. They really complement each other. Who do you play off of? I'll say this, there's no way that team is losing a home game." O'Shea also said he called up Boston College coach Al Skinner, his former boss who plays Kansas on Jan. 5 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, and said, "Good luck with that one."

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