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NBA news: O.J. Mayo hopeful for return to Bucks when suspension is over

O.J. Mayo Bucks

Despite his long minimum of two years’ ban from the NBA due to a failed drug test, former Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard O.J. Mayo is hoping his NBA dream is not over.

The USC standout will attempt a comeback once his suspension is over and has taken the necessary steps to make that happen.

Mayo once hit 242 pounds prior to starting his new workout regimen under NBA trainer Travelle Gaines, a huge weight difference from the 210 pounds, from which he was last listed during the 2015-16 season.

“I was getting tired of watching SportsCenter and Stephen A. Smith,” Mayo told Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. “For the first time, I realized a schedule is what I love. Sometimes in the NBA, the schedule gets to be a lot with all these events, busses, planes and games. But once that’s gone, you miss it so bad.”

Gaines and fellow NBA trainer Chris Johnson had their reservations about Mayo, not only because of their lack of previous relationship, but clinging doubts about his commitment to the game and his work ethic, as Mayo had saved a large part of his $46 million career earnings — plenty of money to retire if he chose to do so.

“Can I please get in there with y’all?” he asked the coaches. “I won’t talk. Please make me better. I love basketball. I cheated the game for three or four years. I want to give my all back. I want to prove I’m a professional, low-maintenance guy.”

Johnson and Gaines took him in, on a zero-tolerance program designed to track his progress by the hour and immediately began to show results, as it was designed to “work him to exhaustion” through the duration of it.

Mayo has lost 25 pounds since he first started and continues to make the right strides, having had to humble himself and start from scratch in order to regain what he once lost.

The reinstatement process can prove to be an arduous one, but one that he is more than willing to go through to reunite with his love of basketball, one he took for granted and is now once again hungry to regain. If Mayo is reinstated, he would do so as a free agent, as the Bucks have renounced his rights.

Mayo adds that if he is able to make an NBA return, he would love to return to the Bucks becaase he feels like he owes the franchise.

“I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo said, when asked for his dream destination. “I was real close with Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [Dwaine Barnes]. I had great relationships with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris Middleton. I was comfortable there. I felt like I let them down, cheated them for two years. They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a subpar player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my s—, and when you’re not on top of your s—, it shows. I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”

Mayo averaged 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game his rookie year, but underwhelmed in his three seasons with the Bucks, averaging 10.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 40 percent shooting.