Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2007
By Mike London
LANDIS Carlos Dixon finished his second season in the Chinese Basketball Association and came home looking to relax, eat plenty of hamburgers and lift weights.
On April 16, just weeks after his return, Dixons television screen was filled with horrific images from the mass shooting at Virginia Tech and his cell phone was beeping constantly.
A 1999 South Rowan graduate, Dixon was a fine player at Virginia Tech, the senior leader for the Hokies in their debut season in the ACC in 2004-05.
The 6-foot-7 swingman wore a white jersey with a maroon No. 32 on the back when he made the swooping steal at midcourt, the swift crossover dribble and the emphatic dunk that beat Clemson in Blacksburg, Va., for the Hokies first ACC triumph.
He also wore No. 32 when he matched baskets with J.J. Redick and led the Hokies to a stunning upset of Duke.
But now No. 32 has taken on new meaning in Blacksburg. Thirty-two people were killed in Seung-Hui Chos shooting rampage before he took his own life.
Its been suggested No. 32 be retired on all Virginia Tech athletic teams. A newspaper solicited Dixons opinion because he wore that number with considerable distinction.
There were a couple of guys that passed away in that shooting, guys I knew pretty well from being around the basketball offices, Dixon said. When the newspaper called me, I told them I didnt believe No. 32 should be retired by a tragedy. Retire it someday for something someone does positively on the basketball court or the football field.
Virginia Tech is a great school, academically and athletically, and its always had a great reputation. We cant let that be ruined by one guy.
Dixon did his share to give something back to the Hokies on Tuesday.
He was the headline act in a South coed alumni vs. students basketball game that raised money earmarked for Virginia Tech, possibly for a memorial for the victims.
South raised about $1,300 $600 from gate receipts, $200 from concessions, another $500 from club and student donations.The student team hung in the game for a while, but when Dixon and 6-8 former Pfeiffer All-American Damien Argrett jumped off the alumni bench to join 2003 scoring leader Graham Corriher, UNC Wilmington track performer Tiffany Thomas and Pfeiffers Josh Chapman, the students were in major trouble.
Argrett and Dixon orchestrated a wicked, long-armed press that led to a series of traps, steals, lobs, dunks, helpless expressions and a blowout of the overmatched teenagers.
Argrett made one clean backcourt steal, fired the ball off the backboard and slammed the carom, probably a 9.5 in an NBA dunk contest.
A laughing Dixon traded his red uniform for a white one in the second half and tried to make things interesting, but he made certain he finished the game sitting on the alumni bench, exchanging high-fives with the other winners.
Dixon, who wore the gold No. 6 shorts he models in China, coasted at half-speed, but he still showed the length, range and athletic ability that have made him a star in Asia.
He led the Jiangsu Dragons to a third-place finish in the CBA this year, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds in only 25 minutes a night.
He picked up his scoring pace to 31 points a night in the playoffs and enjoyed a 40-point outburst in the victory that pushed the Dragons into the league semifinals.
His most formidable obstacle in China is still the diet, not the language. He dropped 17 pounds during the season.
Ive gained a lot of it back now, eating and lifting and working out four days a week at the Forum, Dixon said.
Dixon has been invited to return to the Dragons next season, but he would prefer playing in Italy, Spain, or elsewhere in Europe for the opportunity to see different cultures and face different competition.
Maybe, he said with a smile, Damien can get me on his team in the Czech Republic.
Dixon said his agent is exploring potential workouts for NBA teams and tryout camps. But Dixon didnt just sit on the couch waiting to hear something. He shook off the sadness of April 16, played the game he loves, smiled for countless photos and hugged dozens of people, including former teachers.
Carlos, Damien, everyone who came back here today sacrificed their time for a good cause, South boys basketball coach John Davis saod. For Carlos and Damien, basketball is a business, but they showed today what good men, what good citizens they really are.
A story on Argrett will appear soon.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.