P.J. Hairston story plays only in America

COMMENTARY
Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:53 PM

Thursday's NBA draft was rough if you're the type who doesn't do well with second chances for others.

Oh, I'm right there with you, because if I'd been charged with driving phat cars provided by a fellow named Fats, then that would have put the period on this here little writing career of mine.

But former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston parlayed that situation into guaranteed millions by getting selected in the first round of the draft. The Miami Heat picked him 26th and then traded him to the Charlotte Hornets.

Only in America, right?

Or maybe only in the NBA, where a guy who can – apologies to UNC coach Roy Williams – shoot the dickens out of the basketball can get in trouble and go to the organization's minor league to work on that shot some more. Oh, and do some character development, too.

Durham police last year pulled over Hairston in a luxury SUV at a license checkpoint.

Uh, Hairston didn't have a driver's license on him.

What Hairston did have with him were two homeboys and some weed. A handgun was found near the SUV, a vehicle that was rented by convicted felon Haydn “Fats” Thomas.

Williams supposedly had all sorts of sprints and whatnot planned to punish Hairston, but NCAA president Mark Emmert and his team drew up another play and benched the young man.

Speaking of the NCAA, if you bump into former University of Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier before he heads to Miami to begin his career with the Heat, ask him if we can do lunch. Emmert says it's OK.

Anyway, Hairston went to the NBA Development League and kept making jumpers. The dude shot himself from the D-League to The League.

While something like that happens only in America, a necessary qualifier to keep in mind is that it happens only to ballplayers.

It is what it is.

Ballplayers don't get all of the calls, though.

Former Baylor University center Isaiah Austin, like Hairston, had worked all of his life to position himself for a shot at the NBA.

But just days before the draft, doctors discovered that Austin has a genetic condition impacting his heart that could kill him if he keeps playing high-level basketball.

To Austin's credit, he keeps praising the Lord and has kept it moving. Yet nobody talks about the guy's faith. You think Tim Tebow wore everybody out with that sort of thing? Of course, hardly anybody is talking about former Duke forward Jabari Parker possibly making a stop on the Mormon mission field before he gets with the Milwaukee Bucks.

It's about that ball, y'all.

Herald-Sun sports writer John McCann is on Twitter: @johntmccann. Email him at jmccann@heraldsun.com.