MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Eastern Michigan. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
THIS IS THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR.
And why not. There might not be a more lovable figure in EMU sports history. Greatest? That's up for debate, but consider: to even the outsider, you think of Eastern Michigan and Earl Boykins comes to mind. It's almost instinctual. For many — and rightly so — the school is the little team that could, and Boykins exemplifies that. Plus, his surname has two words which can be used to describe children. And he's 5'5" tall. So much adds up.
Before he was an NBA troubadour — point guards that small have no choice but to be nomadic — he spent four years in Ypsilanti creating his tiny legend from 1994-98. This included, among other accomplishments, 23 points in a 75-60 upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament, two 40-point games in a 10-day span, and a Sports Illustrated feature story. Twice he was First-Team All-MAC, and in 1998 he was an AP All-American honorable mention thanks to his 25.7 points per game. He finished with 2,211 points in EMU history, second all time and just eight behind Kennedy McIntosh. (For grins, he's 79th in school history in rebounds.)
Memories of watching this guy play was unbelievable. He played during my grade school years, and I think I was as tall as him. This made him identifiable. But then he'd start playing, removing any comparison.
Basketball is a tall man's sport, but the game does have constants. The rim's height, the ball's circumference, and the number of points scored when the latter goes through the former, depending on the situation. When Boykins shot the ball, there wasn't a gargantuan large enough to keep those shots down.
And this is why, since 1998, he's been in the league every year except 2008-09. But the clothes have changed colors more than a mood ring: New Jersey, Cleveland, Orlando, back to Cleveland, LA Clippers, Golden State, Denver (to a multi-year deal!), Milwaukee, Charlotte, Washington, Virtus Bologna (Italy) and back to Milwaukee.
And he'll probably play somewhere else next year, for all we know. He's a fun guy to throw around, mostly because it doesn't hurt your back too much. Only 135 pounds.
Who are your nominees for Eastern Michigan's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.