Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tar Heel Thoughts

I rarely post on sports- I prefer to watch and appreciate the athletes as opposed to pontificating about the finer points of the game- points that I am not qualified to analyze. However, I was surprised and disgusted to read the other day that University of North Carolina point guard Tywon Lawson is receiving hate mail on his Facebook page because he and teammates Wayne Ellington and Danny Green have chosen to test the NBA waters at the Orlando pre-draft camp. And an article today on the trio by Jeff Goodman over at Fox Sports determined me to post a few thoughts both on the Tar Heel players and on the fans who supposedly love them.

Fan love is a short-sighted and fickle thing. As a fan of the North Carolina basketball team myself, I have enjoyed watching Lawson, Green and Ellingon since they arrived in Chapel Hill. Should they return to school for the 2008-2009 season, I will be delighted, as that will probably give UNC the edge in winning a national championship. However, whether they choose to return or not, I respect their choices, and I would ask that other UNC fans do the same. Goodman quoted Danny Green as saying,
"It's different for Tyler," Green said. "He's not going anywhere. He loves college and is going to break every record. His family is financially stable, where me, Wayne and Ty aren't quite as stable financially. We aren't broke, but we're not in the same position as Tyler."

This is something to consider. Tyler (as in Hansbrough, the team's leading scorer and rebounder) decided that he didn't need to test the process, and is committed to returning for his senior season. However, as Green pointed out, Hansbrough's situation is not the same. He wanted to finish his college career, and it appears that he is genuinely enjoying the college experience. Lawson, Ellington and Green, on the other hand, are not as interested in college as Hansbrough and are there to try to advance their basketball careers- not improve their scholastic standing. And that is their decision- they certainly know their prospects and their families' needs better than we.

Fans should remember that playing for a particular school or team is not written in stone. Not everyone stays for the entire four years of eligibility and when one is as talented as members of the Tar Heels basketball team usually are, this leads them to explore their sport as a profession. Change happens, and when a player decides that he (or she) is ready to try to make a living at their chosen sport, then the fans of their schools should wish them all the best. These athletes have provided many thrills, and done a great deal for the school. But they are adults, and should be able to make decisions on their personal growth without their erstwh8ile fans turning on them.

Does this mean I believe that they are all ready? No- I think that while Lawson is probably as NBA-ready as he is going to get, Ellington and Green would be best-served by returning and honing their skills. For Ellington, I believe that with his height, he could work on his ball-handling, thus increasing his chances and draft position next year. For Green, he needs to demonstrate a better all-round game- especially on the offensive end. However, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I am not qualified to make these decision. These three young men, and all the other underclassmen who have declared for their chosen sport are- it is their lives.

So fans- thank Lawson, Green and Ellington for their contributions over the past two (or in Green's case, three) years, and support them in their future, whether they return to Chapel Hill or not. Carolina has had a tremendous run and Ellington, Lawson and Green have been a huge part of it. But do not denigrate them or send them hate mail. They are in the process of making a very difficult decision, and they certainly don't need any more pressure than they already face.

For myself, I would like to thank them and wish them all the best in their future, whether or not they stay in the draft or not. Good luck to them and to all the young people trying to make a career in a field that requires talent above and beyond what most of us possess.

No comments: