Former Bryan Station standout Shelvin Mack returns to Lexington every summer for a youth basketball camp to give back to the community that raised him. On Tuesday night, the community gave back to him.
Bryan Station retired Mack’s jersey during a halftime ceremony as the Defenders hosted Lafayette. Mack, the only current NBA player who hails from Lexington, called it “really cool” to get to receive the honor.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet that my jersey is getting retired at Bryan Station,” Mack told the Herald-Leader prior to the ceremony. “It’s a great accomplishment for me and I’m gonna continue to work and try to make everyone proud once they look up and see the Mack jersey.”
Mack, who plays for the Utah Jazz, averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists as a senior in the 2007-08 season. He also led the Defenders in steals and free-throw shooting that season. He finished his career with 1,798 points, 665 rebounds, 586 assists and 315 steals.
Bryan Station finished that season 30-3 — still their best campaign since 1981 — after falling to Lexington Catholic, 79-63, in the 2008 11th Region championship game. Mack struggled against the Knights before cramping in the fourth quarter and watching from the bench in the final minutes.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” Mack said with a grin. “It’s not a good memory. I know the bits and pieces and the things that happened. We had a great ride. I enjoyed my time here.”
Male girls’ basketball coach Champ Ligon, who was Mack’s coach when he was at Bryan Station, was not expected to attend the ceremony because the Bulldogs were playing Eastern in Louisville. Mack said he stays in frequent contact with his high school coach and hoped to catch up with him Wednesday.
Mack is averaging 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Jazz (the first two are career highs), who were fourth in the Western Conference and had the league’s sixth-best record heading into a game at New Orleans on Wednesday.
“We’re doing really good this year, just grinding and continuing to get wins,” Mack said. “We should make the playoffs unless something crazy happens.”
The former Butler star lately has been the subject of trade rumors. He’d spent the better part of three seasons with Atlanta before being dealt to Utah just ahead of the league trade deadline last year. A change of scenery could come again before this season’s March 1 deadline.
“You just try to look at it with a positive outlook,” Mack said of the rumors. “The best thing about it is at least you know somebody wants you on their team. ... It’s a business. It’s very rarely that you play for one team your whole career, so I’m just ready for the next chapter if it happens.”
Tuesday night was about reflecting on past chapters instead of worrying about future ones, and Mack gave lots of love to his former teammates and coaches that helped him get to where he is now.
He recalled one of their favorite pastimes — bonding off the court playing the NBA 2k video game series — and how that’s not changed much despite the fact that he now gets to play as himself. There’s still a little fantasy, though.
“The crazy thing is I kind of dunk a lot on there and all my friends know I’ll never dunk and are like, ‘Man, this is fake,’” Mack said with a laugh.