'Summer of P.J.' left Williams with no choice
Posted July 29, 2013
University of North Carolina head men's basketball coach Roy Williams didn't suspended P.J. Hairston on Sunday night because of speeding. Williams suspended his leading scorer because the totality of Hairston's summer shenanigans left him with no other choice.
Taken individually, Hairston driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone on southbound I-85 would elicit a giant shoulder shrug. Like we've never dropped the classic "going with the flow of traffic" line after being pulled over by a state trooper? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. And when it doesn't, pay the fine or fight it in court to keep the insurance costs from spiking.
However, this was Hairston's third such car-related incident since May and the first transgression since Williams released a statement discussing punishment without actually administering any.
Let's rewind to July 15, when Williams finally said something about Hairston's June 5 arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license.
"P.J. and I have had several discussions already and he knows he has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result," said Williams. "Certainly the idea of suspending P.J. has been discussed. However, he is not currently enrolled in summer school, is not practicing with the team and we have no games until November."
At the time, Williams was right in not adding anything tangible to his words. Durham authorities dismissed those charges a week after the statement because Hairston showed proof that he had a driver's license and had completed a drug assessment program. As for the rental cars and his connection to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, the NCAA will eventually put it on their weighted scale of justice.
Williams' statement also acted as the new baseline for Hairston to maintain. All he had to do was keep a low profile between now and the start of the basketball season, serve some sort of punishment and everyone will move on with their lives.
Well, so much for that idea.
There have been a handful of comparisons between Hairston's series of miscues and those of former North Carolina basketball player Will Graves, who was eventually booted off the team after he broke enough team rules. However, there is one fundamental difference between Hairston and Graves. One player is essential to the success of the Tar Heels next season and projected to be in the NBA, while the other was not.
Just how much more will Williams tolerate? Only the coach knows, but his patience for handling talented players with a dumb decision streak is certainly being tested at the moment.
In the unlikely scenario Hairston finds himself off the team, it won't be because of simple traffic violations or a questionable relationship with a local party promoter with a penchant for fancy cars. It'll be because he decided to go about being "that dude" instead of heading the warning of his coach.