(Swamp, New Jersey) Tamar Slay of the New Jersey Nets isn't like most basketball players in the NBA. He keeps the same hours, and wears the same shoes. He drinks the same sports drinks, and plays the same video games. Yes, his name is different, but that's just because he comes from West Virginia, home of the Tartars.
But seated before his locker dressing after a game there's one thing you notice immediately about Tamar Slay: He puts his pants on two legs at a time!
"I started doing that as a boy. I got up early to go strangle the chickens for breakfast. It was cold in the yurt in the mountains and so I just started dressing as quickly as possible. It wasn't until I got to high school that I realized it set me apart, that anyone even noticed."
But notice they did, especially high school basketball coach Buzz McDougal. "He was something special in the locker room. He was okay on the court, but then I saw he was different. He put his pants on two legs at a time. I started him one game and now you see where he is."
Not that anyone is suggesting that Tamar Slay is in the NBA just because he puts his pants on two legs at a time. "If all he did was put his pants on two legs at a time he'd be fine in college, but this is another level, a different game," says teammate Adaldo Jouquin.
What got Slay to the NBA, and what keeps him there, is his approach to the game(s). "I take it two games at a time. You hear all these guys say they take it one game at a time. One game at a time is for losers, man. Everybody who says take it one game at a time, they say that because they're scared to think of all the games they're gonna lose. I'm thinking (about) all the games I'm gonna win! I'm like chess, thinking two, three, four games ahead."
Most people can't do that. If they try to take it two games at a time they forget where they are now. "I tried it once in high school," says basketball Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. "I got a hot dog in the middle of the game. I just forgot," he says, shaking his head.
Tamar smiles when people bring up all the twos in his life. "Good things come in pairs, I like to say. This pair got me where I am today. I'm not complaining."
Neither are the New Jersey Nets.