Saturday, April 4, 2009

He DIDN'T break the law?

Why is Ty Lawson playing craps a national story? Why is his walking into a casino in Detroit, at the age of 21 (which, last I checked, was legal age), considered such a bad thing?

I don't get it, and maybe that's from my upbringing in Chicago. You would think Lawson walked into a post office toting a shotgun and opened fire on some unsuspecting seniors.

It was a casino, licensed and regulated by the state of Michigan. There were other people, presumably all, over the age of 21 on the premises. Lawson was among other consenting adults. Those that consented to wager their money in the hopes of winning more.

Step back, people, and get a grip.

Head Coach Roy Williams told the media during his Friday open press conference that he knew Lawson and a teammate went to the casino. He was fine with it. The players violated no team rules by going. One of the team's assistants, their video coordinator, went with the players.


If you are going cast a negative light on 21 year old young men going into a casino to shoot dice, you better be willing to do the same to a coach who, according to some, "oughta know better than to go into a place like that."

Williams, also during his press conference on Friday, made mention of a pair of games this season where his team played in places where gambling was legal. The first was in Detroit, when the Heels played Michigan State. Roy said he went to the casino the night before, and lost, but his team won the game. His team played in Reno, NV. He gambled the night before and lost, but his team won the game. Williams is a superstitious coach, and said, "you would be nuts if you think I'm not going to shoot craps this week. I'm doing everything I can to help my team win this game."

There was a column written by a good friend of mine, Caulton Tudor, in Saturday's Raleigh News and Observer. In it, Tudor voices his displeasure with Lawson's trip to the casino, and points out a college basketball scandal that took place in the 1950's. A point-shaving scandal, where players took money from gamblers, etc. True, that was an ugly thing, but that was a different time, and a different era. Unscrupulous people have a harder time getting to the players now, simply because the NCAA, and the institutions make it very difficult for anything like that to happen. The safeguards are pretty good--certainly not perfect--but good. Then you should factor in the kind of person Lawson is. He's a good kid, who loves to play basketball, and wants to make a career out of it. Do you think he would jeopardize his name and reputation by getting mixed up in something illegal? Neither do I.

Lighten up, people. Lawson winning $250 dollars playing craps isn't going to cloud his court vision Saturday night against Villanova. Nor is it going to tarnish his reputation as the ACC Player of the Year. It might buy him a few extra pizzas back in Chapel Hill.

Mike Solarte

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