Dec 14, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston (15) reacts in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Wildcats 82-77 at Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Hairston's Off-Season Sideshow

PJ Hairston is no stranger to silly off-season headlines.

In 2013, the Hornets shooting guard made the news multiple times, starting in June, when he was arrested at a traffic stop in Durham, NC.  Hairston was arrested for possession of marijuana, while driving a car being rented to notorious party promoter and convicted felon Haydn “Fats” Thomas.  On the scene, police also found a 9mm handgun and ammunition.  Later that summer, Hairston was pulled over for speeding 93 mph in a 65 mph zone.  Again, Hairston was driving a car linked to Haydn “Fats” Thomas.

These missteps ultimately led to Hairston’s dismissal from the University of North Carolina basketball team.  Hairston, humiliated, took his talents to the NBA’s Developmental League, where he earned a second chance to play basketball at a significant level.

On June 26, 2014, the Charlotte Hornets acquired PJ Hairston with the 26th pick of the NBA Draft.  The pick was met with overwhelming positivity by Hornets fans, although a small contingent remained weary; had Hairston done enough to prove he could stay out of trouble?

Less than two weeks after the draft, those fears became justified, and those silly headlines began to pop up again.

News broke, via Twitter, that Hairston had punched a seventeen year-old in the midst of a pick-up game at the Durham YMCA on July 6th.  This story was later confirmed by Hairston’s agent, and Hairston will face misdemeanor assault and battery charges for the incident.  While these scraps are common in pick-up games across the country, Hairston’s lack of restraint put him back in the spotlight, again in a negative light.

Just a day later, it was revealed that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon had been driving PJ Hairston’s car when Gordon was arrested for a DUI in Durham.  Hairston claims the two met by chance at a grocery store and decided to swap cars for the night.  In addition to this, reports revealed that Gordon’s bail had been paid by none other than Haydn “Fats” Thomas.

The headlines don’t stop there.

On Thursday, Sporting News broke that PJ Hairston’s agent, Juan Morrow, is not certified by NBAPA.  Punishment for this could include a hefty fine for the Charlotte Hornets, on top of a potential voiding of Hairston’s rookie contract.  There are many factors that could play into this, including Morrow lying to Hairston about his certification, but this is just speculation.  What we do know is that both Hairston and the Hornets may potentially have severe consequences to deal with.

Having trouble following? Here’s a timeline of The Summer of PJ, Part Two:

  • June 26th, 2014:  PJ Hairston drafted by Charlotte Hornets in first round of NBA Draft
  • July 5th, 2014:  Josh Gordon arrested for DUI; Haydn “Fats” Thomas pays bail
  • July 6th, 2014:  PJ Hairston gets into altercation with seventeen year-old at pick-up game; later charged with misdemeanor assault and battery
  • July 7th, 2014:  Report reveals that Josh Gordon was driving PJ Hairston’s car at time of DUI arrest.
  • July 10th, 2014:  SportingNews reveals PJ Hairston’s agent is not certified by NBAPA.

Within the span of two weeks(!), Hairston found himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Again.

PJ Hairston is a talented basketball player.  He has a fantastic three point shot, he can play strong defense, and he can drive against larger defenders.  He can play transition basketball, he can score off of pick-and-rolls, he can score over defenders, and he can knock down open shots.

None of this will matter if his off-the-court decision making doesn’t improve.

These issues have plagued Hairston for over a year.  They have tarnished his reputation, they have brought him public embarrassment, they have made him fodder for jokes among rival fans, and they cut his college basketball career tragically short.

When Hairston was drafted, I wrote about Hairston’s path to redemption, how he had worked hard to earn his second chance, how he had done enough to earn the trust of Hornets management, players, and fans.  Two weeks later, I am writing a timeline of negative headlines that have followed since then.

Second chances are never something to be taken for granted.  Not everyone gets a shot at redemption, a re-do, a chance to make up for past mistakes.  On June 26th, the Charlotte Hornets gave Hairston that opportunity.  It is ultimately up to him to reward their faith in him, not just on the court, but off of it as well.

Otherwise, Hairston may find his NBA career conclude similarly to his collegiate career: Prematurely, thanks to those silly, silly headlines.

Do you think PJ Hairston was a good pick?  Do you believe he can put it together mentally?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Tags: Charlotte Hornets PJ Hairston Tar Heels

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