Is it the cowboy hat, sheriff?

Published 12:06 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

What do former NBA great Michael Jordan and Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield have in common?

Give up?

Perhaps we should leave this level of sleuthing to the experts.

Enter filmmaker Spike Lee’s alter ego, Mars Blackman.

But no doubt Blackman, the character who came into the national spotlight in the famous Nike commercials for Michael Jordan’s line of basketball shoes, would have his familiar line of questioning ready to grill Mayfield.

Some of you may have forgotten who Blackman is; others may have missed his brief moment in the spotlight altogether.

Blackman and Jordan starred in a series of black and white commercials in which Blackman asked a series of questions to the NBA great.

“What makes you the best player in the universe?”

“Is it the vicious dunks?”

“No, Mars,” Jordan responds.

“Is it the haircut?”

“No, Mars,” Jordan says.

“Is it the shoes?”

“No, Mars,” Jordan answers.

“Is it the extra-long shorts?”

“No, Mars,” Jordan says.

“It’s the shoes, then, right?”

“Nah,” Jordan says.

“Is it the short socks?”

“No, Mars.”

“Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!”

Those commercials were groundbreaking in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Each one was a new series of back and forth questions, ending with the obvious answer that Jordan was a great player because of his Nike shoes.

Of course anyone with a brain knows that Jordan would have still been a spectacular player, even if he were playing in cowboy boots or flip-flops.

That didn’t stop Nike from raking in millions and millions in shoe sales from people who wanted to be like Mike.

Of course, if Mars Blackman came to Adams County, his questions for Mayfield would not be focused on the man’s basketball ability.

“What makes you seem so successful at rounding up drug abusers?”

“Is it the hat?” Blackman would ask.

And Mayfield would almost certainly deny that his increasingly famous cowboy hat has anything to do with fighting crime, but the hat sure is making a statement in the county — as is the seemingly increased level of drug arrests.

Mayfield has half the county talking about his adoption of a cowboy hat to the sheriff’s office uniform.

Some citizens love it; others think it’s silly, comparing them to the famous Texas rangers.

But regardless of where you sit on the cowboy hat issue, it’s difficult to argue with the apparent success Mayfield and his office seem to be making fighting the drug problems in the county.

Critics may call it all theatrics.

Others will say Mayfield and the ACSO is simply alerting the media — namely our newspaper — to their arrests more often than previous administrations did.

From my perspective, who cares so long as the drug users and dealers in our area know that the law has them in their sights?

The hats seem to indicate, clearly, that the new sheriff his deputies are serious about the task at hand.

And like Michael Jordan’s shoes, the hats may be distinctive, but it’s the men and women wearing them that are the real superstars.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or