In some ways, no matter what happens, the situation with JamesOn
Curry's arrest on drug charges will overshadow the Duke-UNC game until
tip-off. What a shame this story is. The standard rejoinder is wait
until all the facts are in, but since the arrests involve a) selling to
undercover officers, and b) video and audio tape in some cases, it seems a
pretty good bet that the case is solid.
For Curry, the immediate consequences are suspension from
school and no basketball for at least 10 days. If he's convicted
before the end of the season, his high school career is over. Any other
immediate sanctions are probably up to the school and coach.
In the long run, we don't know what will happen yet.
There are a number of variables, the first being the stiffer drug laws passed in
the '80s and '90s and the amount of marijuana Curry had. It's
possible that he could either get sent away for a fairly long time or, if he's
lucky, get probation or a minor, short sentence (if anyone is up on the
applicable laws, please let us know).
Oh, and unless he's totally cleared, which seems unlikely
given the nature of the sting, his scholarship is almost certainly going to be
withdrawn. UNC is a very image-conscious program, and having an accused
drug dealer (much less a convicted drug dealer) on the basketball team won't
And before we forget it, while we can't entirely blame him, we
thought Roy Williams had a pathetic response to the situation:
"It's disturbing, surprising. It's
very surprising. I'm just learning everything about it. It happened
today. I don't have enough information at this time...He does not play for me.
He's not under my watch. I do have certain thoughts and feelings that are
personal and will stay that way until I share them with his family. It is so
new, and no one has great information right now."
Not a word of concern for the kid, but a
quick separation: he does not play for me. He's not under my watch.
Sounds a lot like a hand-washing to us. It might have been nice had he
said something like: "I'm just learning about it, and I hope it's not true.
However, at this time, my thoughts are with JamesOn and his family. There
are more important things than basketball, and this is obviously one of
them. They're in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope everyone else prays
for them as well."
He's not under my watch. True enough, but what a
Before any Duke fans get too carried away with this, we remind
you that Duke and UNC tend to shadow each other in many ways. So while
last summer, JJ Redick was in a somewhat embarrassing situation (he was in a
room where pot was being smoked, but said he didn't smoke marijuana and so
wouldn't have smoked it there, either), this time it's UNC's turn. Our
stance on this sort of thing has always been that we don't hold athletes to a
higher standard than other kids their age. So when the rest of campus
drinks underage or lights up, yes, an athlete is perceived differently, but in
reality, he is just another kid trying to find his way in life, prone to
mistakes or foolish behavior.
Beyond the rivalry stuff, which is fun, here's a guy who had a
career path which would have led him, probably at least, into making a
six-figure salary in Europe. That's leaving aside his free education and
degree. This is really pretty sad, and while we reserve the right to poke
fun at the situation in a broad sense, what's happened is that a kid has, most
likely, tossed away a really bright future. We've done stupid things in
our time, too (though not quite this stupid), so we can empathize.
What next, assuming he avoids jail? Well, first up is
getting a new team, since we're all but sure he'll never play in Chapel
Hill. The traditional path for convict-hoopsters is out, since Tark has
retired. The next best thing in that vein appears to be Bob Huggins at Cincinnati.
For Curry, who we understand had a life-long dream of playing
at UNC, it's a big step down from the ACC. But maybe there's a different
path now for him.
What school, not too far from Burlington, could use a
talented, if troubled player - and has shown a willingness to deal with troubled
athletes recently? Who is about to experience a deluge of competition and
will need quality help as quickly as possible?
Why, our new neighbors, the Hokies, of course. If he can
clear up the legal end, they'd thank God he fell in their lap and be thrilled to
have him. He'd get the bonus of being able to try to stick it to Chapel
Hill on a semi-regular basis.
That's down the road. Right now, there's a kid who has
apparently screwed up massively. We feel really badly for him, even while
we understand he put himself in this situation. We hope he can overcome
this and start rebuilding his future, and we'll be pulling for him to do so.