Steve Gray, who played for Bill Foster at Duke and who was part of the magnificent 1978 team, had two on-court disasters at Duke, both in the waning minutes of winnable games: in one, the ball bounced off his foot near press row. And in a game against Maryland, he tried to pass the ball across the court - and it hit the rim.
We honestly don't remember if it went out of bounds or to a Terp, but Duke lost the ball and the game and for all intents and purposes, after those two plays, Gray's career was over. Bruce Bell, a remarkable walk-on, took his spot and later he was behind John Harrell and Bob Bender.
But he was still a part of the team.
Those were humiliating failures but also the sort that one can overcome. After college, Gray built a solid business career and was CEO of a Houston firm which was built by his former Duke teammate Ken Dennard - he was still on the team.
That all came crashing down when Gray was arrested for insider trading.
Gray, who wrote and disseminated the firm's strict policy on insider trading, completely disregarded all of that. He was in a position to make near certain bets on companies the firm worked with, and made $326,159 in profit on these trades.
That sort of thing is bound to draw attention, and once it was drawn, the authorities found that he had written notes in his computer calendar: trade company A on such-and-such-a-day.
That's the detail that caught us. How could anyone be so foolish and arrogant? Steve Gray is far from a stupid man. This was...inexplicable.
So in late September, caught red-handed, he pleaded guilty, and on Friday, January 16th, he stood before Federal Judge Melinda Harmon and learned his fate: 46 months in prison along with fines and forfeiture of his illegitimate profits.
This story is personal to us because (full disclosure) we knew and at one point admired Gray, and we are truly saddened to see such a sorry turn of events.
We can't speculate on his motives and it really doesn't matter. The law is the law, and when you break it, you have to accept the consequences.
Standing in front of a judge to be sentenced to prison is a far worse humiliation than any problem in a basketball game. As much as we hate to say it, Gray brought this on himself and deserves the punishment. As a matter of fact, he probably got off fairly easy and his reputation will never escape the prison it is in now.
Still, we hope that when he gets out he has learned something from this and that he can pull his life together.
We don't know how many ACC players have ever been to prison. It could be an interesting list. Wake's Chris King was sentenced several years ago for embezzlement and we guess Chris Washburn would be too for his various drug offenses.
But the list can't be too long.
By the way, it's important to note that this mess is Gray's and Gray's alone. One of the really shocking things to us is that he risked not just his own reputation but the firm's and of course Dennard's.
Dennard has built a solid, respected company and brought Gray on as a trusted former teammate. He didn't deserve this and like his company he is entirely innocent.