Hats off to coach David Sanders and Callaway (Miss.) for choosing to honor a piece of living history.
Before the Chargers’ 108-86 win over Neshoba Central in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs, Callaway retired Malik Newman’s No. 14 jersey.
The five-star guard’s high school career isn’t over. He and the Chargers advanced to the quarterfinals and are three games away from winning their fourth straight state championship.
Some feel that the retiring of Newman’s jersey — a player who’s tallied 3,076 points, more than 600 rebounds and nearly 300 assists in his career — is jumping the gun.
Is retiring a player’s jersey while he’s still playing, especially at the high school level, worth celebrating?
Yes. Yes it is.
It’s unprecedented. It’s well deserved. And the timing is perfect.
All of the people this means the most to — his coaches, teammates and the fans that packed into the gym at 601 Beasley Road over the last four years to watch greatness in the making — will have moved on.
They’ll have the “remember when” memories and reminisce about the games when they watched Newman drop 40 and 50 points, but that will all be in the past.
It probably comes as a surprise that Newman is one of the few in the state, let alone in JPS schools, to have his jersey retired.
Murrah has yet to retire Mo Williams’ number. The same goes for Monta Ellis at Lanier.
While paving his own path in Mississippi history, Newman is walking in the footsteps of those who came before him.
Let’s not forget that it was Williams who, after dropping 52 points in January for the Timberwolves, tweeted “Getting buckets like @iammaliknewman 2nite.”
Newman’s achievements have been recognized at the state, national and international level.
Winning three state championships in any classification isn’t an easy feat. Neither is being named team MVP for USA Basketball in back-to-back years while winning two gold medals.
In the conversation about the best high school players to come through Mississippi, Newman’s name is undeniably at the top of the list.
In terms of his high school accomplishments and what he’s done to keep Mississippi in the national spotlight as a once-in-a-generation player, that is what should be rewarded and celebrated to the fullest extent.
To borrow from one of the game’s current greats, we are all lucky to be witnesses of greatness in the making.
And there’s no better time than now to honor it.