Yo, Jemal!

Straight talk with Carolina Weekly’s Managing Editor for Sports

by C. Jemal Horton

Let’s talk, south Charlotte sports fans.

I don’t mean the obligatory “Hey, how ya doing?” or “Why do you think the Bobcats stink so much?” kind of talk – although, yes, I’d be open to engaging in that kind of discussion with you.

But as Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s Managing Editor for Sports, I want to have honest-to-goodness discussions about the things that really are important to you.

If you’re not happy with something in our SportsWeekly section, I want to know about it. If you really like something we’ve done, of course, I want to hear that, too.

Want to know which team I think will win the public-school girls lacrosse title this spring? Hey, I’m not shy about telling you. All you have to do is ask.

That’s why I’ve created a forum – a regular, in-print direct line to me – so that you always can feel that you know how (and why) we do things in our SportsWeekly section.

Periodically, I will publish this column – “Yo, Jemal!” – so that you can ask me any question you’d like.

Ideally, the questions will be related to south Charlotte high school sports or the SportsWeekly section of our newspaper. For instance, one reader/parent recently wrote me and wanted to know how we went about choosing the members of our Basketball Super Team last week; she was unhappy that her daughter hadn’t been selected. As of our publication time, I hadn’t received permission from the reader to publish her name with her question, but this basically is what I told her in my initial response:

We request player nominations from all the coaches – boys and girls – in our southern Mecklenburg coverage area, which also includes Matthews and Mint Hill. After that, our SportsWeekly staff – which also features Sports Editor Aaron Garcia and writer Andrew Stark – meets and discusses those coach nominations. However, in all honesty, we probably rely most heavily on our own assessments, also known as the “eyeball test.”

And, yes, many times, readers think we need eye exams.

Nonetheless, I can assure you that we make every effort to see each southern Mecklenburg basketball team play so that we can make informed decisions about our Super Teams. But we also readily admit that there have been times when we didn’t realize how strong a player was until we received the coach nominations. And, in those cases, we don’t hesitate to add players who originally had not been considered.

We understand that there still are going to be scores of people who believe their favorite players were overlooked, and I welcome you to share your perspectives with us, be it by sending a question/concern to “Yo, Jemal” or simply shooting us an e-mail not to be used for publication.

Either way, let’s keep the communication lines open.

But again, don’t feel as if you can only write to “Yo, Jemal!” about newspaper questions. As many of you know of me during my six-year tenure with the paper, I’m not shy about sharing my opinion on other topics.

A sampling:
• Providence Day’s Tiffany Mitchell isn’t the greatest girls basketball player to ever attend a Mecklenburg County high school.
But she’s definitely in the team picture.

Mitchell recently was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year and Ms. Basketball. This on the heels of leading the Chargers to their third consecutive state championship a few months ago. But I think Mitchell is just beginning to scratch the surface of her immense talent.

Usually, the better the competition is, the better Mitchell becomes. And when she suits up for the University of South Carolina next winter, I truly believe she’s going to make her presence known. I expect her to eventually become an all-conference selection, and a professional career isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

For now, though, I think the mantle of being Mecklenburg’s best ever belongs to former North Meck star Andrea Stinson, who went on to shine at N.C. State and in the WNBA. Stinson was so good, she managed to be national news long before Al Gore invented the Internet.

Oh, and the other folks in the team picture are Mitchell’s fellow Providence Day products Konecka Drakeford (1993) and Natasha Brackett (2001), Garinger’s Tiffani Johnson (1994), South Meck’s Joy Check (Class of 2006), and former South Meck and Butler star Cierra Burdick (Class of 2011).

There’s nothing wrong with Mitchell being simply one of the greats. For now.
• I think people have been way too hard on LeBron James for joining Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat to give himself a better shot at winning an NBA title.

It’s amazing. On one hand, we love to characterize athletes as attention-starved prima donnas who only care about money and fame. Then, when a guy such as LeBron decides to place a higher premium on winning – taking a smaller contract to do so – than being “The Man” all by himself in Cleveland, he gets ripped.

I don’t get it.

See, anything is up for discussion. Just drop me a line and include your name, and we’re in business.

I look forward to having these discussions as frequently as possible.

Let’s stay in touch.

YO, JEMAL!
Periodically, Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group Managing Editor for Sports C. Jemal Horton will publish questions and concerns submitted by readers. To submit a question/concern, send an e-mail to jemal@thecharlotteweekly.com with “Yo, Jemal!” written in the subject line. Please include your full name with your e-mail.

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