Vernon Maxwell is a two time NBA champion who averaged 12.8ppg. A crazed party animal once compared to Reggie Miller, he is a forgotten pioneer in on and off the court antics and exemplifies how to treat women and family poorly. Most noted on the court for his time in the early 1990’s with the Houston Rockets, Maxwell earned the nickname Mad Max with a feisty reputation due to his lockdown defense and Bad Boy Swag. He was known for the knack to hit clutch shots in big moments, drawing comparisons to Reggie Miller at times. That is about as far as those comparisons would go.
The University of Florida party All American had an illustrious career that doesn’t exist like John Calipari’s Final Four appearances. Like most college athletes in the late eighties, he took cash payments just like you and I would have. But he was greedy and took from both agents AND coaches, making John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams’ point shaving scandal in 1986 look like copying on a grade school test. What you don’t know is Maxwell holds a distinctive record for most lines of cocaine blown before NCAA tournament games and was once rumored to be drunk during a game. Vin Baker and Maurice Clarett often mention Maxwell as an influence in their aggressiveness while playing ball. For some reason the University of Florida did not find this cool and erased his stats for his junior and senior season just like Nate Newton erased lines off toilet seats and expensive women.
Drafted in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs in 1988, he achieved his most memorable moments in a Houston Rockets uniform. Mad Max torched the lowly (13-27) Cleveland Cavaliers for 30 points, in the fourth quarter! The game ended with a career high 51 points. Down 6 going into the quarter, Max took over Kobe Bryant style and netted thirty of the teams thirty-eight points, to pull out a 103-97 squeaker. He would have went for 53 points but decided to throw in one assist because Mad Max is not a selfish dude and looks out for others.
He parlayed this into a memorable run with the 1993-1994 Houston Rockets that ended in winning the NBA title. Kind of hard not to when running mates included Kenny Smith, Hakeem Olajuwon, Big Shot Robert Horry, and Otis Thorpe among others. After this career peak, he started to decline like Brady Anderson’s career after steroids. After joining the Philadelphia 76ers in 1995, he thought he was Deion Sanders and contemplated trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles. Luckily he must have came down from his high and bounced from NBA team to team for the next few years, slowly fading into the sunset like Billy Owens NBA potential and playing ability.
His off the court accolades are up there with the finest of them, often setting precedents for a future generation. In 1995 he ran into the crowd in Portland and smashed a fans dome like Metta World Peace resulting in a 10 game suspension by the NBA. The artist formerly known as Ron Artest is the gold standard for crowd brawls, but we can not give Mad Max enough credit for being a pioneer in the industry. The next step was to pull something even Shawn Kemp and Travis Henry thought was out of bounds, knowingly infecting a women with herpes. Promptly Maxwell lost $592,000 for this stunt.
Most sports coaches in life preach consistency. This is something Vernon Maxwell did while giving an A+ effort in the women and fatherhood department. Despite earning $15 million in his NBA career, Mad Max was arrested for failing to muster $150K in child support. His son Dominique, not named after his father, was offered $40 by Daddy to skip a DNA paternity test in the third grade. No wonder his mom used to send Dominique postcards pretending to be Vernon. He was extradited from Georgia for kidnapping a female companion by locking her in a house and roughing her up when she tried to escape. Clearly she had not realized that Mr. Maxwell was just trying to protect his house, but Under Armour took notice and never looked back.
Vernon ‘Mad Max’ Maxwell: a screw up to most but an Average Joe to me who just does not get enough credit for being a pioneer on and off the court in consistent model behavior. Well done Vernon. Please think of me before putting your two NBA championship rings on Ebay.
This was written by Tom Hamm. At one point in his life he rooted for Tim Couch.