THE ‘Black Superman’ has finally left the country – and he has left a trail of chaos in his wake.
After a homecoming gone bad that saw the legendary import enshrined to the Hall of Fame only to overstay then wear out his welcome, Billy Ray Bates finally flew back to the US on Tuesday courtesy of a one-way ticket from PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
PBA officials made sure Bates was on board the plane that brought him back home after a tumultuous four-month stay that saw him go back to his old, wild ways and get into all sort of troubles in a country where he was once adored as a cage demigod.
In an exclusive interview with Spin.ph before boarding the plane, the former Portland Trail Blazer apologized for all the trouble he caused during his return and vowed to come back a “better Billy Ray Bates.”
“This country has been my second home,” said Bates, who was forced to come home to renew his NBA insurance and at the same time undergo hip surgery.
“I am sorry that I got in trouble here, I know now how to conduct myself. Given another chance, I will forget about the 2012 Billy Ray Bates,” he said.
The four-time best import also apologized to the league, saying: “I had a great experience, but there were some trouble that came upon me that jeopardized my reputation. I thought it was petty but other people saw it otherwise.”
The former Crispa and Ginebra reinforcement promised to look for new opportunities in the US that could help him return to the country. He wants to use his contacts and work as an import agent or scour the US for Fil-foreign talent.
“I’ll work on my reputation again. Maybe in another year or so, I know things will change. I have great expectations of myself come 2014. I am looking forward to be back,” he said.
But trouble followed Bates all the way to the airport.
Minutes before he boarded his plane, his angry girlfriend arrived at the airport to ask for money so she can return to her hometown of Albay.
A little altercation followed and soon after, PBA special projects manager Rhose Montreal said Bates’ landlord from San Andres in Manila also showed up, demanding unpaid house rent.
In the end, it was Montreal who gave the import money to settle his remaining obligations - including his US$150 dollar penalty for excess baggage.
“Talagang nag tiyaga ako na bantayan siya,” Montreal, who personally saw off Bates, said while extending his gratitude to officials and the airport police for their assistance.