THE `Black Superman’ is flying back home for good.
Billy Ray Bates, arguably the best import ever to play in the PBA, is bound for the US after a tumultuous stay in the Philippines.
The league, through the generosity of commissioner Chito Salud, paid for his one-way plane ticket home. PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial disclosed to Spin.ph the cost of the trip was more than US$1,000 as other expenses, including immigration fees and fines, were likewise covered by the league for the overstaying import.
“Nagbigay na si Kume (Salud) ng ticket niya. Sa Tuesday ang flight niya sa US,” said Marcial.
Bates returned to the country in October of 2011 to personally receive his plaque as a member of the league's Hall of Fame, his trip paid for by the pro league.
It was the first time in more than two decades that the former Portland Trail Blazer and two-time PBA Best Import awardee came back to the country he once mesmerized with his phenomenal basketball skills.
He was supposed to stay here for just a few days, but to the surprise of many – including the PBA – Bates extended his visit and soon wore out his welcome.
Initially, he found work with the Philippine Patriots team of owner Mikee Romero in the Asean Basketball League where he served as skill training coach, but it didn’t take long before Bates’ old habits came back.
During his short stint with the Patriots, Bates had some brushes with the law which management initially tried to keep under the wraps. But the final straw came one night when an intoxicated Bates assaulted a transsexual he brought along to his condo unit after he mistakenly thought him to be a lady.
Just last October, Bates was nabbed in Quezon City for allegedly throwing a rock at a parked luxury car.
The once popular import also appeared in a popular variety show known for giving out millions worth of prizes, and on primetime television, personally sought the help of the celebrated TV host for a supposed injury that needs surgery.
“I will make sure that he will really board the plane as I was advised by the commissioner to accompany him (Bates) to his designated seat in the cabin,” said PBA special projects manager Rhose Montreal.
The charming league manager, however, believes Bates is dead set on leaving the country for good as his medical insurance in the US is about to lapse.
“Puwersado siya kasi kailangan niya ng operasyon sa hip. He really has to go back kasi ’yung medical insurance niya sa NBA kailangan ma-renew,” Montreal added.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua