COMMENTARY – My friends and I didn’t read the newspaper a whole lot when we were teenagers. There was no internet and as 17-year-olds, watching the news was something our parents and grandparents did.
But we knew when something or someone was a big deal.
I went to West Jordan High School and never played varsity basketball, so my buddies and I, all football dudes who were good friends with most of the basketball players, took it upon ourselves to make sure the basketball team was well-supported. In other words, we used to sit on the front row with painted faces and act like maniacs.
And though we were not well-read, we knew when the other teams had great players. And back in the old Region 3, there were some great players. It started with the Pollard brothers, who went on to star at BYU. Then came Marty Haws.
One of our duties as a rabid group of fans was to pick out an attribute of the opposing team’s star and magnify it, then mercilessly tease him about it. Our proximity to the floor (we were literally six feet from the sideline) made this an effective and entertaining way to spend a couple of nights a week during basketball season.
For Haws, who was a phenomenally quick guard for Hillcrest High, it was the downright juvenile look he would get on his face if he got called for a foul or a violation. He quickly earned the nickname and chant “Mar-tee Bab-eee.”
Every time the lightning-quick Haws would touch the ball, we chanted “Mar-tee Bab-eee, Mar-tee Babee!”
Amazingly, given the volume and obnoxiousness of our chant, Haws never gave us more than a passing glance the entire game.
West Jordan won that game, but I remember a couple of key things from that night back in 1984. First of all, Haws must have scored 40 points. I don’t have the numbers, but it seems like he couldn’t miss. Secondly, despite our relentless mocking and West Jordan’s win over his Huskies, he never lost his cool, got a technical or even raised his voice.
Of course, the rest of the story is this: Haws went on to star at BYU for four years, playing in 123 consecutive games from 1986-1990. In those four years, Marty scored 1,337 points, dished out 502 assists and snared 182 steals.
He then played professionally in Belgium, for a couple of years, where his first-born son came to be. The boy’s name is Tyler. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Back in 1989, as a young sports writer I interviewed Marty after a BYU win over Utah State. I asked him what memories he had of high school basketball. He said he loved playing in the old Region 3 wars and the fans there were “fanatical.” He said there were even a couple of times when he wanted to go up in the stands and “punch some of those guys in the face.”
To his credit, he never did that. In fact, despite our ruthless chanting, he always acted with class.
Now he is royalty at BYU. One of the all-time leading scorers, Marty has sired a current star in Tyler and his second son, T.J., has already committed to BYU and is setting all kinds of records at Lone Peak as just a junior.
My dad often inadvertently calls Tyler by his dad’s name. He’s a “spitting image of his dad, Marty,” Pops always says.
If Tyler, who is on pace to break most of his dad’s personal records at BYU, can be as good a representative of BYU and the LDS Church as his dad Marty was and is, then getting their names confused is not a bad thing at all.
I suspect “Mar-tee” wouldn’t mind at all.
The Cougars (12-4 overall and 2-0 in the West Coast Conference) play at home against Pepperdine tonight and should beat the Waves (9-6, 1-1), who hunker down and play good defense, but struggle to score the basketball. BYU finishes the week at Santa Clara (12-4, 1-1). The Broncos are vastly improved after going 8-22 last year. They were in the game at No. 1 Duke (losing by 13) and lost to No. 9 Gonzaga by just seven.
Saint Mary’s also visits Provo for a late-night affair (9 p.m.) next Wednesday night in an ESPN feature game. The Gaels are 12-3 and play at Gonzaga tonight.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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