He was in Israel when the truth caught up to him.
"I played over there for a month," Haywoode Workman recalled. "Just to see if I could play. We got to the finals, but I just couldn't do what I wanted to do. I thought I let the team down, because they'd counted on me a lot. The guys that were there were American guys, and I was like, they're going at me because I played in the league, and I wished I could do what I wanted to do. But I just couldn't."
It was the end of a solid, if unspectacular, playing career that over the course of a decade had taken him from Atlanta to Washington to Indiana to Milwaukee. Workman was the quintessential backup point guard who probably had another four or five years in him, but a knee injury he suffered in 1996 never really came around. At 36, he needed another gig.
That's when he recalled a conversation he had in Florida in the summer of 2001. While working out, he ran into NBA referee Bob Delaney.
"He was like, 'you ever think about reffing,?'" Workman said. "And last summer I just said I'll try it out."
Two years later, Workman is still at it as an official, trying to follow in the footsteps of other ex-players Bernie Fryer and Leon Wood. It's highly unlikely he'll be an NBA ref this season, or next season, for that matter. But he's in the pipeline, and he's determined to work wherever he needs to improve.
"I wanted to be an all-star as a player, one of those upper-eschelon players, but I never reached that," Workman says. "But now, I can contribute to the game another way. Just being an ex-player stepping on the court, you've got credibility. I might even enhance the game a little bit, because I played at that level. The way it's happening so fast, I don't know. I know it won't happen this year. I understand that. Because I'm not ready."
That's great news... I always liked Haywoode... "Work work work work WORK!"