True die-hard fans of our beloved UNC Tarheels would recognize the “sign”, that of a player’s fist being held in the air toward the coaching staff, thus indicating the player’s understanding that they are tired and unable to play at full potential – that they need a break. This was a symbol instituted by one of the greatest coaches to ever stalk the sidelines, the “Michelangelo” Dean Smith. These players were rewarded with the knowledge that by letting the coaches know when they needed a breather – that they would also have a say about when they would be ready to re-enter the game.
But this week, unfortunately, one our most infamous players over the last 3 years raised the proverbial fist in regards to his career in Carolina Blue. Throwing Blue Heaven on The Hill into quite a bit of a frenzy. I’m sure by now most if not all have heard or read the story. Larry Drew II, one of the point guards on this year’s team, who had recently been moved from the starting position, to a backup role has decided to leave the team and the school to transfer somewhere else. A player leaving the team and transferring from the school isn’t something new or unheard of, it was more the manner of how it happened that has everyone scratching their heads. He attended practice on Thursday night, then weight training early the next morning, hung out with some of the guys on the team and everything seemed fine. Then he just left. His father made a phone call to Coach Williams and left a message to which Roy followed up and found out the news that Larry the 2nd would no longer be around.
Interestingly enough – many of my friends and family know how avid & oft-times outspoken a fan I am of my team. I began receiving calls & texts & facebook posts wondering what I thought or how I felt and thus it has led me to desire to share some thoughts in my own space here – not simply about the specifics of this surreal story, but also in regards to some of the sad societal symbolism it so well embodies.
So here are my thoughts (and it’s okay if you don’t care – just me being me):
It is what it is – and although I’m sorry it went down the way it did – I think there is MUCH more behind the story than what we all know or will ever know. Stuff like that doesn’t “just happen” without something deeper going on.
Also I am sorry that he falls into the culture of kids raised to not be equipped to handle their own problems and parents that are too overinvolved not letting the kid speak for themselves.
I believe this jumps out so powerfully to me because of the way I was raised. I can still remember an episode from my own upbringing that screams toward this scenario. I was elementary age and my family was visiting an elderly woman in the church where my father was the preacher. We had eaten lunch at her home and was spending some time there that afternoon. This woman had a ceramic “Tic-Tac-Toe” game and my sister and I were playing. After losing a round I got angry and slammed down one of the pieces breaking it into bits on the floor. This was followed by a realization of what I had done and a reaction of terror to the punishment that I knew I would receive. But instead it was the life lesson that was thrust upon me that stuck more so than anything else that took place that afternoon (still don’t really remember what my greater punishment was).
My parents sat me down and even in the midst of my tears and pleading they told me that I had to go into the kitchen, where this kind and hospitable woman was working to clean up from lunch, and tell her what I had done. I had to FACE THE MUSIC and explain that I had broken something of hers out of a fit of anger. They didn’t let me off the hook, they didn’t cover for me, they didn’t try to make it “easier” for me. NO what they did was teach me how to be responsible for my own life and actions.
It is EXACTLY THIS SORT OF MENTALITY that is being short-changed in the family makeup in the world in which we live. It is EXACTLY this sort of downfall that I believe is the bigger issue in this Larry Drew Dilemma we are seeing play out.
I am sad for him too because he seemed like a good kid and just took a lot of heat & crap (and even some from me as well) simply because he was NOT Ty Lawson – it had nothing to do with him living up to his own potential – he just followed 2 really solid PG’s and comparing him to their exploits is unfair. The new system of Larry being the backup to Kendall Marshall seemed to be working & he was playing the best ball of his last 2 years in that backup role which I think he was better suited for.
I think the team will handle all of this turmoil pretty well – I believe they will come out tight as a unit, like gang-busters against FSU today to show everyone they are not dead yet. It could almost hurt them by being too aggressive but I see them playing strong in the game today. I think the letdown comes and it begins to hurt them more against Duke on Wednesday night since it is IN CAMERON and the crowd will certainly have plenty of signs and things to say about the situation. Duke also has depth & can run which may hurt Kendall being the ONLY solid PG. I also fear he could run into foul trouble having to guard Nolan Smith.
So I don’t expect it to be a huge loss in the long run, but I am sad to see it go down like it did. But bashing the kid and destroying the good things he did accomplish while at UNC doesn’t make the situation go away or any better, so I think it is time for UNC fans to just move on and accept it.
I hope Larry will learn some lessons from this dilemma as well – I hope he can learn what it means to be LOYAL, to step up and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and handle the responsibilities that come along with the choices he makes – and that if this is a matter of some family turmoil (as is some of the whispers in the rumor mill which could be just a load of junk) that they will deal with them head on and get it cleared up before putting another set of teammates and a University in a tough position.
And before any of us begin to get so quick to throw stones – may we all step back and see what we can each learn from the Larry Drew Dilemma in how we handle our own business and the way it affects those around us and influences others in the decisions they make as well as the way in which they carry out those decisions!