I could still have a chance for a Last Dance, says Omony

Monday September 28 2020

Still around. Omony hopes to recover for a last hurrah in the league. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE

By Andrew Mwanguhya

The ‘Last Dance,’ the miniseries documentary that celebrates the making and greatness of legendary Michael Jordan, was hatched in the fall of 1997.
Then, he and the Chicago Bulls allowed a film crew to follow them as they went for their sixth NBA title in eight seasons.
Bulls coach at the time, Phil Jackson, had an inkling that that would be the final run for the core members of his 1990s dynasty, thus coining the ‘Last Dance’ phrase.It is not that Mandy Juruni, a Ugandan Phil of sorts – having racked up seven successive national league titles with City Oilers since the side’s arrival in the top division –, is about to hint at the same.
Letting it sink in
But one of his generals is. The great Stephen Omony has run a classy race. He is not announcing retirement. No. He remains hungry as ever. But he also appreciates the physical exertions in one way or another.
He often steals a glance at the clock, and then one at the title. One more, he tells himself. Just one more! 
Omony’s domestic count stands at five national championships, with three of them coming at City Oilers.
He bets on himself for the Last Dance.
“My doctor’s advice is to observe my recovery and depending on my status, I could still have a chance to have a Last Dance,” said Omony, chuckling.  “Whichever direction this goes, I’m at peace.” 
Omony suffered a meniscus tear, cartilage damage and a partial ACL tear at the start of last season, and underwent surgery in January.
Aging like fine wine
And the cancellation of the 2020 basketball league season due to Covid hardly helped athletes whose careers are in their evenings.
Omony appreciates own seniority, and embraces it with grace. At 40, 22 of those years dedicated to basketball, his longevity in the game could well do with some studying. 
“I have worn a couple of sleeves age-wise but much as these many years have taken a toll on the body, my mind is still intact regarding my zeal to compete,” he told Daily Monitor.
The voided season meant the Oilers charge at their eighth league title was pushed to next year, and now athletes must be creative to keep in shape.
“It’s definitely unprecedented and tough for all athletes and all stakeholders to adjust to,” he said of the situation. 
Out of November national team
“I have mainly been focusing on my recovery from surgery but it’s definitely demanding of athletes to channel their energies in some form of action (during this period).”
Will Omony be fit for national team engagements in November? 
“That requires a certain level of physical and mental state of activity and I haven’t been active in basketball since October last year,” he explained.
“Therefore, I would not be helpful to this cause.” 
Hold it right there, Steve! Is that a polite way of saying adios to the national team or we are talking only this year? 
“We’ll see, depends on the progress.”
Omony-Enabu bromance
In previous interviews we have had with Omony’s club and national teammate Jimmy Enabu, the former has been in awe of and full of praise for his elder and master of the game.
Enabu would be interested in what Omony has to say about him.
“Jimmy has over the years demonstrated the importance of mental focus,” started Omony. 
“He’s not only transformed himself as a basketball player (he’s a shadow – better version – of the player he was in his previous team) but also in his growth and development as a leader, captaining City Oilers and the national team. 
“He’s got other great attributes that indicate that he can be a game changer in any field he chooses.
“He’s definitely achieved much at a young age. Longevity creates greatness, so the more consistent he goes the more greatness awaits him.”
Omony knows greatness when he sees one. Fortunately, Enabu is grounded enough. 
And the man himself, Omony, defines greatness. In his 22 years of dunking, dislocating fingers, twisting knees and blood, he has won a total of nine league titles, Zone V Championship, and MVP gongs in between.
His first four league titles came during a professional time at Seychelles side, the Hawks, with two more arriving at Falcons and the last three with Oilers. 
The Last Dance, he reckons, could well close with his 10th overall, la decima; and Oilers long awaited (yeah, a year is long enough for them) eighth.

Basketball journey
Admired picture of Magic Johnson hanging from his elder brother’s room wall.
Introduced to the game at St Leo’s College, Kyegobe.
His Nkurumah dorm was next to the basketball, tennis and volleyball courts. So he played all the games.
Has suffered three major injuries in his 22-year career; in 2004 in Seychelles, a 2012 thigh injury against Warriors, and a meniscus tear, cartilage damage and a partial ACL tear at the start of last season