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#21 Gets Lifted Up Where It Belongs

February 11, 2011

[Personal Blogging Bucket List Note: Use a post title that references an 80’s soft rock song. Check.]

In the midst of the 106-52 shellacking the Terps gave Longwood Wednesday night, the school announced that they will raise Greivis Vasquez’s jersey to the rafters during the Feb. 20 game against NC State. By the luck of the draw, I will be going to that particular game, and thinking about his career, I’m getting excited to give him a rousing standing ovation as #21 makes it way towards the Comcast Center roof.

What is interesting, though, is that if you had told me three years ago that I would be this enthusiastic about being a part of this event, I probably would have looked at you with a face usually intended to convey thoughts such as “No, I do not want an appletini,” or “The Princess Diaries 2? Really? We can do better than that.”

Truth be told, we didn’t exactly get off on the right foot. Aside from his emotional on-the-court breakdowns, I had one unfortunate run-in that put him in a deep hole toward earning my respect. Namely, the time that I saw him arrive at a Terps football game wearing a Yankee hat (an O’s hat may have evened out this incident for me) and his own jersey. Who wears their own jersey off the court out in public? Come on.

Of course, there was also the time that he told a number of Terp fans to “Shut the f*** up” at the Comcast Center, while dribbling the ball at half court, in the middle of a game.

However, with his career as a Terp in my rear-view mirror, I can say that while I didn’t appreciate every twist on the road our favorite Venezuelan took us down, I certainly enjoyed the trip, and that’s not just because that, as a Maryland Terrapin, the only thing I respect is when someone answers loud offensive yelling with equally loud and offensive yelling. Obviously, it helps that he finished as the only player in ACC history to finish with 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds.

In honor of this occasion, let’s recount a few of the ways that he stole our hearts.

1. Greivis mounts a 9 point comeback in the final 1:30 at home against UNC, then wins the game in overtime and picks up Maryland’s third ever triple double with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

2. This clip needs no introduction.

3. After dealing with a game full of questions regarding the legality of his residence in the United States from NC State fans, Greivis answered what he felt was mean-spirited trash talk by drilling a wildly unnecessary three pointer at the buzzer.

4. Finally, for his last trick at the Comcast Center, not only did he get the assist on a monster Jordan Williams dunk that will forever be a part of any Maryland highlight reel, he also capped off the win over Duke on Senior Night with not one but two consecutive inconceivably ill-advised no-look shots that really only he would even think about shooting.

Given the mutual love-hate relationship the Terrapin faithful seemed to have with Greivis, you might feel as if this sudden love fest has a certain “we didn’t know what we had until it was gone” aspect to it. However, I think it’s more of a case of how we all felt after having a few days to digest the finales of great TV series like Sopranos or Lost. Sure, there were some episodes that I wish had never happened, and, yes, the I wish we could have figured out a better way to end things. Still, when it was all over, I was glad to have been a part of it, I can’t imagine someone trying to duplicate the experience and I’ll probably purchase the DVD set.

So here’s to you, Greivis. While I haven’t missed announcers making terrible attempts to pronounce your name (maybe I have, actually), I have missed watching someone get as fired up as you did on a nightly basis for having Maryland written across your chest. Thanks for the memories.

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