Friday, September 5, 2008

(Dis) Orientation

Two or three years back, David Stern and company (known to most as ‘The National Basketball Association’ or NBA) set an age limit on players. Stern was apparently perturbed by the number of NBA scouts and general managers attending high school games and wanted to put an end to kids skipping college.

Ignoring the success of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and others, Stern thought it would benefit the NBA to have players at least see what college ball is all about. After all, maybe they’ll mature a bit, learn more of the fundamentals of the game, learn about life. And maybe – just maybe – they’ll take advantage of the educational system and stick around for a degree.


On Wednesday, two of the NBA’s more heralded and likable rookies – Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur - were kicked out of the yearly NBA Rookie Camp for having women in their rooms. Or more specifically, in Arthur’s room. This was a blatant violation of the ‘no visitors’ policy (or, as it’s known in NBA circles, ‘the no pussy rule’).

More concerning to all involved was the apparent use of marijuana in that same room. Yes, indeed!! Chalmers and Arthur were not only attempting to get an orgy going, but were smoking weed…..

….at the NBA ROOKIE CAMP!!!!

If you’re not familiar, the NBA rookie camp is a mandatory week of orientation all new NBA players attend. Here they are given strict code of conduct rules, given lessons on how to handle women groupies, the risks of casual sex, and how to invest and handle money properly.

There was something else, too. What was it?

Oh yeah. They are warned they could be drug tested at any point during the season beginning NOW!

Let’s assume Chalmers and Arthur aren’t complete fucking morons (a big assumption at this point) and that the drug class hadn’t yet been given. Did they still somehow think it was worth risking their NBA livelihood for one night of sex and drugs? Were they really so hard up they couldn’t wait until the Rookie Camp was over before toking and getting toked? Jesus Christ, the camp is a week long. Not an entire week, either. Five days. Monday through Friday!

They couldn’t wait?

As details emerge, so does the image of Chalmers and Arthur. These are the same two that helped Kansas finally rid itself of the curse of Roy Williams. They won the National Championship less than 4 months ago, for fuck’s sake!! Did they think they were still in college where everyone would cover for them? You’re in the NBA now, retards and you’re rookies to boot. Everyone is the same and nothing is overlooked.

Sources are saying David Stern was in a rage when he found out. So furious he called the hotel personally to inform them not to let Chalmers or Arthur back into their rooms. He even named them to the other rookies in attendance during a speech. While I have never met Stern I’m fairly confident he’s not someone you want to have angry with you. Chalmers and Arthur haven’t played a single NBA game and they’ve already been fined $20,000, will most definitely be drug tested any day now, and are facing suspensions.

Even worse, they’ll have an enormous bull’s eye on their backs with David Stern behind the sniper rifle watching their every move.


But does this really have to do with intelligence?

No, the two Jayhawks will never be recruited by Mensa (especially now), but you have to assume they are functionally coherent (at least when they’re not high). They knew enough to not let security in when the smoke alarms started going off in the room. They also were sharp enough to flush their drug stash when police were called to the room. No drugs were found, but there was ‘a strong stench of marijuana in the room, and one person was in the bathroom with the door locked, repeatedly flushing the toilet’.

That’s not subtle at all. If anything, it sounds like they really did think they were still in college. Certainly sounds like a night in the dorms, no?

The issue isn’t intelligence or lack thereof. The issue is entitlement. What do we expect from athletes who have been catered to and pampered since they were in junior high school? They’ve been allowed to do what they want, when they want, with whoever they want for nearly half their lives. Sorry, Hammen, but being a Jayhawk doesn’t change that. If anything, it enforces it.

Big time college ball is a billion dollar business. Coach Bill Self, who predictably defended his two ex-players, has millions and millions of dollars on the line when it comes to how well his team does. The school itself needs to put a good team on the court to cash in. You think the coach or the school or the board of trustees care what the players do with their own time?

As long as they get grades juuust good enough for them to stay on the court, as long as they stay out of trouble (or trouble that doesn’t make the papers, anyway), as long as they put on the ‘appearance’ of being respectable members of society (read: don’t look like you’re a gang member) then it’s all good.

You want to sleep around with hundreds of co-eds? Feel free, just use protection. Don’t feel like taking this class? We’ll get you a waiver. Having trouble with testing? Let’s get you a ‘tutor’.

College basketball – hell, college sports in general – is big business plain and simple. To pretend there is some other noble cause behind it because it’s technically considered ‘amateur’ is naïve. When a division 1A school puts a good team on the field or on the court, they reap millions upon millions of dollars. Besides the obvious national exposure (especially those beautiful television contracts), there are student enrollment increases, more funding from trustees, jersey and hat sales and a number of other income sources I probably don’t even know about.

Chalmers and Arthur are idiots for doing what they did, but they are simply the result of the system. How many other players have done something similar and just never been caught? I wonder how many current NBA players are reading about these two and thinking ‘man, they should have gone to the girl’s houses like we did’?

I have nothing against these two guys. I’ve done things like this in the past and I wasn’t pampered or catered to in any way. I can only imagine the trouble I got in if I had my way and was looking at millions of dollars at the age of 20. Hell, I’d probably be dead or living in a cardboard box under a highway somewhere.

Still, you have to wonder about two ‘student athletes’ who smoke weed and have girls in their rooms while David Stern is right down the hall. It’s like snorting coke off the mirror in the vice principle’s office. Sure you may get away with it, but why not use the bathroom down by the wood shop instead.

Um….not that I’ve ever done such things.

Today’s distraction: Interesting stats on graduation rates. Please note where Kansas and Memphis rank on the list (you have to scroll down).


Hammen said...

I think this thing is getting blown wayyyyy out of proportion. I don't think it's a sense of entitlement or a result of some nation-wide problem with how athletes are treated at big money schools, it's a case of a couple of 20-year-olds being idiots.

I mean, this kind of thing happens at major Division I colleges, tiny high schools in North Dakota, and everywhere in between. Bottom line is kids are going to drink and smoke weed, it's just who gets caught or not.

A Tribute: deer a train and basketball said...

Michael Beasley was also supposedly in the room with them.

BeachBum said...

The reaction of David Stern, the 20K fine, and possible suspensions means this isn't being blown out of proportion.

If anything, these two are going to be made an example to any future players.

Hammen, you're a fan of these guys which is why you think it's being blown out of proportion (I did the same thing with SpyGate), so imagine your reaction if these two were former Duke players.

I must admit, the description of the constant flushing toilet is hilarious.

Hammen said...

See, I figured that argument was coming my way, and that's where I completely disagree. Normally I'm the complete opposite with my own guys. I usually freak out at reports of this nature because I want 'my guys' to be untainted.

But with smoking weed, I honestly couldn't care less. The amount of basketball players who smoke weed is ridiculous, I'm not gonna be naive and believe that KU players are any different.

If it was a couple of Duke players, I would not be up in arms about it at all. The only difference is that I would get to make fun of my buddies who like Duke, instead of them making fun of me right now. In fact, yesterday my old roommate, who is a UNC diehard, and I were making fun of everything, as Ty Lawson got busted for drinking right before the draft.

BeachBum said...

You're right, I'm sure a majority of players smoke weed, but they don't do it at the FUCKING ROOKIE ORIENTATION!!

Anonymous said...

I've commented elsewhere on this and I am beginning to feel like a broken record, however, I'll pitch in here too. This probably IS getting blown a little out of proportion since, as Hammen says, it's mostly just stupid kids being stupid kids. HOWEVER, better judgment surely could have been exercised by the accused. There's a time and a place for everything, and anyone with an IQ over 65 should have figured out to leave that shit behind for five damn days. They deserve what they get from this just for the sheer stupidity of it more so than the actual wrong doing.