MELBOURNE — Dwayne Schintzius is motivated. And he is motivating his new Brevard Blue Ducks teammates.
“I’ve been telling those guys that there’s nothing better than getting a check every two weeks for $32,000, after taxes. That’s what I want again. Those checks. That’s why I’m going through this.”
The this that Schintzius is speaking about is Florida Tech’s Clemente Center on a Friday night, where the Blue Ducks played, and lost to, the visiting Adirondack Wildcats 83-77.
It was two-for-one ticket night for students from kindergarten to college. It was also, safe to say, a far cry from the best eight years Schintzius has spent in his life.
“I was sitting around the house one day, and I looked at myself in the mirror and I’m about 290 pounds . . . actually, I was closer to 300 pounds, but I don’t want to scare you . . . and I said, ‘Blah.’ That’s exactly what I said. ‘Blah.’ It was time to make a turnaround. I had to do something.”
And so he did.
Schintzius shed his wife and 35 pounds.
In that order.
“My wife was a real nut case,” he said. “She really didn’t want me to play basketball because she thought all athletes cheat on their wives. We opened a bar together in Brandon. But I sold it. And I finally got rid of her. We were married eight months and we were together two years and eight months. It was my second divorce. So I guess I’m not so good at marriage. But I think I’m still pretty good at basketball.”
We’re about to find out.
Schintzius is hoping his stint with the Blue Ducks and the USBL will be an entre back into the NBA, where he hasn’t played since year 2000. His eight NBA seasons were lucrative financially, but pretty nondescript otherwise. He played for five franchises in those eight seasons.
“I always had one injury or another. I had nine surgeries. Three on each knee. A herniated disc. Cysts removed from my right ankle. A bunch of broken noses. But I feel good now, other than a calf injury that I’m getting over. But I’ve been working out real hard with a personal trainer. I’m more ready physically, mentally and emotionally than I think I’ve ever been.”
Schintzius didn’t play Friday night, but maybe tonight and Sunday he will, with the Pennsylvania Valley Dogs and their head coach, Darryl Dawkins, in town.
This is the beauty of the USBL, a league of second looks and chances. Opportunity doesn’t knock in the USBL. You do the knocking, and hope someone answers.
“I’m hoping to show people that I can still play basketball,” Schintzius said, and there is an earnestness about him that is infectious. Though he didn’t play, he was animated on the bench, cheering on his new teammates and backslapping them during timeouts.
If attitude counts, his is good.
Besides, he is only 34, and stands 7-foot-4. The combination isn’t a bad one.
“I’m nervous and excited,” he said, “at the same time.”
Where has it gone?
Once upon a time, the only thing Schintzius had to prove is that he couldn’t play basketball. He didn’t have to beg for attention. Attention begged for him. He was one of the best college players in the country. Remember? Dwayne Schintzius was going to be the player who finally was going to draw national attention to the Florida Gators.
Well, he did.
We remember Schintzius more for what he did off the court at UF, than on. We remember him more for his famed “lobster” haircut, than his silky touch around the basket.
The best Schintzius moments came off the court, the stuff of legends.
There was a time when a fellow student looked up at Schintzius and asked him how the weather was up there.
Schintzius spit on him.
“It’s raining,” he sneered.
Then there was the time outside a Gainesville nightclub when Schintzius allegedly attacked a couple of fellow students with a tennis racket after a beer bottle was thrown at his car. It led to the infamous incident at a game in Vanderbilt, when the Gators were trailing by two with seconds left and the Commodores had the ball.
Suddenly, some fans threw tennis balls onto the court. A technical foul was called, both free throws were sunk, the game went into overtime and Gators ended up winning. The victory, a critical one, propelled them to a Southeastern Conference crown.
To be sure, Schintzius helped UF to his share of wins on the court. But there were always things happening off the court that seemed to overshadow everything.
It all culminated when Dan DeVoe replaced fired coach Norm Sloan and immediately had a series of run-ins with Schintzius. Most notable was his battle with Schintzius to get his haircut. Schintzius was eventually booted off the team, to which he released a statement that said he couldn’t “sail under the authority of Captain Ahab.”
Ah, those were the days.