Weekend Column: They say expect the unexpected, but we never expected this


By Leon Hargrove Jr. - Sports Editor



ROCKINGHAM — As much as I loved the thought of attending NBA All-Star Weekend next year, I honestly don’t believe the city of Charlotte was ready for that big of an event.

I don’t think people realize the kind of numbers that All-Star Weekend actually brings in. People from all over the world save up as much money as they can to just be around and experience everything that goes on during those three days.

And I’m not even talking about the actual NBA fans.

You add that on top of the fans who want to see their favorite stars compete, on top of the celebrities who religiously show their faces every February, on top of the actual NBA players and their families, on top of every North Carolinian who made plans to attend, on top of the already anxious residents of Charlotte — and you have a large number of people and a large amount of traffic that the city has never seen before.

Trust me, I don’t like the fact that North Carolina lost out on what would have been the biggest sporting event in state history due to the HB2 bill. I wanted Charlotte to host the All-Star Game just as much as, maybe even more than, the next guy. I wouldn’t have asked for anything else in life if I would’ve been able to make my way into the Time Warner Cable Arena — even if it was just to enjoy one event.

However, I just don’t know if the city of Charlotte is ready for everything that All-Star Weekend brings to the table. I hope I’m wrong and some things can be changed so that North Carolina will actually get to host it in 2019.

That would be so dope.

THE UNEXPECTED

When it comes to death, it always takes me a while to come around to the idea of a person no longer being here on earth. And even though I never had a personal relationship with Tyrek Coger, I still find myself in the same predicament.

Coger, who was going to play basketball at Oklahoma State this season, collapsed during a workout Thursday afternoon — and passed away at a medical center later that night.

Although I didn’t know Coger that well, because we’re both from Raleigh and played basketball, we crossed paths a few times. And from what I saw, he was always full of energy, cracking jokes and — most importantly — confident.

If you’re wondering just how confident Coger was in his game, go watch the YouTube video where he challenged Washington Wizards guard John Wall to a game of 1-on-1 at Wall’s 2012 Reebok camp.

It’s hilarious.

Since watching that video four years ago, I hadn’t heard much on Coger until I came across a video about a month ago that explained the journey that ultimately led him to a commitment to Oklahoma State University. I love to see people from North Carolina, especially from my hometown, doing well and moving forward in life.

So, to hear about his passing was tough.

The news sent shockwaves throughout the city of Raleigh. There were so many people on social media reacting to Coger’s untimely death — posting various pictures and videos they had of him — and it hurt to see them hurting.

I was actually with my little brother when the news broke Thursday night. He told me he just played basketball with Coger last month and talked about how Coger was excited to get to school and prepare for the season.

It’s all just crazy to think about, but it’s been nice to see things like Wall’s Instagram post (https://www.instagram.com/p/BIJlTvOgINJ/?taken-by=johnwall&hl=en) and Ballislife’s tribute video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POVZghJBhmE).

My condolences and prayers go out to Coger’s family and his closest friends during such a tough time.

Rest easy, Tyrek.

Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow him on Twitter @_UncleLeon.

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By Leon Hargrove Jr.

Sports Editor

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