INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — As his talented son, Andrew, was presented with his new wine-and-gold Cavaliers jersey, Mitchell Wiggins finally let go of some painful memories.
This is it, he thought, his second chance, another shot at an NBA career broken in a haze of cocaine abuse.
His son is the No. 1 overall pick, and Mitchell Wiggins is now unburdened by guilt, embarrassment, and disappointment. He's whole again.
"It just gives me closure," said Mitchell Wiggins, who was suspended for two full seasons with Houston in the 1980s for drugs. "I'm able to let go of maybe some of the things I was feeling when I left the league, and I can sleep better now. This is a big moment."
The Cavaliers introduced Andrew Wiggins on Friday, one day after the team ended weeks of public debate and internal discussion by selecting the slender small forward from Kansas first in the NBA draft. Wiggins, who probably would have also been chosen before anyone else a year ago, began his news conference by saying his personal expectations are as high as what the Cavaliers believe he can attain.
The 19-year-old with the 44-inch vertical jump plans to soar.
"I just want to come in, create an impact right off the bat, offensively and defensively, bring the team to the next level, and just be a good teammate, be a good part of the organization," he said. "I want to be on the All-Defensive team, be Rookie of the Year, make the All-Star team, all that type of stuff."
Those comments made new Cavs coach David Blatt smile.
"We didn't bring Andrew in here for a year," Blatt said. "This isn't a one-and-done. This is a career player."
Mitchell Wiggins trained his youngest son well. Once Andrew was old enough to dribble, Wiggins began showing him how to play the game — especially on defense.
"I taught him how to guard multiple positions," he said. "How to guard a scorer, how to guard a driver. He understands defensively what he needs to do, and he cherishes defense."
Wiggins also educated Andrew and his talented brothers, Mitchell and Nick, on the pitfalls of life as a pro athlete.
"Everybody knows my history," Wiggins said.
Caught up in an addiction he had trouble shaking, he threw away so much of what he had, and in the process hurt himself, his family, and his Rockets teammates. After playing in the NBA finals in 1986, his career nose-dived, and it would take him two years to recover.
Wiggins isn't worried about Andrew getting derailed. He and his wife, Marita, a two-time Olympic silver medal-winning sprinter for Canada, have raised their children to work hard so they get the most of the athletic gifts they've been given.