CHAPEL HILL — Some day-after-the-NBA-draft thoughts on dreary, sticky Friday in Chapel Hill
So P.J. Hairston goes to the Charlotte Hornets, after all, after some team sources reportedly expressed concern over whether itd be a good idea to draft him. We probably dont need to detail why Charlotte might have been concerned about drafting Hairston but, if you needed a refresher, Hairston grew up in Greensboro and his decision-making led him to some trouble however relatively minor both in high school and at North Carolina.
Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer wrote an excellent story about Hairston and his hometown roots, and the possible issues Charlotte might have had with drafting Hairston. The story was published earlier this week and you can read it here. In the story Hairston says this, about the concerns the Hornets expressed about him:
I feel like if I got drafted in Charlotte, people would be more worried about me than the basketball side. Thats the only question, because I want people to watch basketball and not be worried about my personal life.
Later in the story, there was this from Hairston:
I know Id be OK (in Charlotte). If that werent the case I wouldnt have made it through high school. I grew up in the hood. Ive always had the all the attention. Ive always had people around me. Ive always had people asking me for stuff. I know how to handle the situation.
Theres little doubt that Hairston can play, that hell make an NBA team happy with what he can do on the court. Even so, he enters the league having to prove his character. Us media types waste a lot of time talking about distractions and a lot of other things we probably dont know a lot about, honestly. But it is a fact that Hairstons decision-making hurt him in high school and hurt him at UNC.
At UNC, his issues came down, mostly, to the use of rental cars and other impermissible benefits. UNC eventually decided that Hairstons case was so egregious that it couldnt seek his reinstatement from the NCAA. A lot of NCAA rules and regulations are flawed, but thats a separate discussion. Under the rules whether theyre good rules or not Hairston made decisions that put his eligibility in jeopardy.
Now, in the NBA, the use of rental cars wont be an issue. But the questions about Hairstons past, and his character, will linger on fair or unfair until he proves he can be a professional. I covered Hairston for three years well, two, I suppose and he never struck me as a bad guy. Just one who was a bit immature, a bit unprepared for the glare of the spotlight. At no other place in the NBA will the glare on him be brighter than in Charlotte. Not because of what hell do on the court. But because hell be playing in his backyard. Hes likely to be surrounded by the same people who surrounded him when he made some questionable decisions in the past.
Will that be a problem for Hairston? The Hornets evidently dont think so. Heres hoping Hairston proves them right.
I liked covering James Michael McAdoo. Always found him to be humble, honest, even a little bit sheepish about his stature as a recognizable figure on campus at UNC. So I was hoping, the way journalists sometimes do about the people they cover, for good things for him on draft night.
It wasnt to be. McAdoo left UNC a year early or maybe two years too late, depending on your perspective to enter the draft. Had he left school after his freshman season, when he came on late that year amid an injury to John Henson, McAdoo likely would have been a lottery pick. Some folks suggested last night that he could have been a top-five pick (Im not sure about that). Either way, he would have been drafted.
Two years later, after productive, good seasons but not great seasons McAdoo goes undrafted. People will look at his story as a case study as to why players should always take the money and run. And if youre all about money, its difficult to argue. McAdoo, though, never struck me as a guy too caught up in the rush to make a ton of money playing basketball. If he was that guy, he would have left after his freshman season.
On those occasions when he talked about why he decided to stay in school, McAdoo always spoke of how much he enjoyed college life, how much he enjoyed learning, how much he liked being a part of the college culture in Chapel Hill. He went to dance shows at the campus theatre, just to watch them, and he had a variety of non-basketball friends. In short, basketball wasnt necessarily his life, the way it is with some players.
So while others might be sad for McAdoo, Im guessing hes OK with how things turned out. Im sure theres disappointment, obviously, at not hearing his name called. But hell have a chance to make an NBA roster and, if that doesnt work out, theres little doubt he can make a great life playing overseas for a while.
You can say he cost himself millions of dollars by not leaving school two years ago, but he gained some things in the process that he values, too. Not the least of which is a wife, who he met at UNC and married the day before delcaring for the draft.