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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gaub’s gospel: What we can learn from Hassan

    Adam Gaubsports editor
    Adam Gaub
    sports editor

    Basketball players are held to a different standard. Plain and simple. One far and away more difficult than by which the average college student is judged.

    Lucky for Hassan Adams, he’s also held to a different standard than the typical basketball player.

    When Adams was pulled over for speeding early Sunday morning, intoxicated, with a sober passenger in the car who could have been driving, it sent the Wildcats’ chances in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament spiraling into a nosedive. Or at least that’s what of most of Tucson is thinking.

    The real issue at stake is not whether the Wildcats can win without Hassan – the heart of the matter is whether the Wildcats can survive with him.

    Like it or not, love it or hate it, Arizona head coach Lute Olson has allowed Hassan the opportunity to come back on to the team once the Wildcats get their invite to the NCAA tournament (and they will get it, even if they drop their first-rounder to the Cardinal).

    In my mind, this sends a message even worse than had Olson decided not suspend him at all. By suspending him solely for the Pac-10 tournament, the worst that could happen is that Adams will miss three games, but likely less than that, as the Wildcats will have a tough road ahead to make it to the finals on Saturday in Los Angeles.

    Olson sends a dangerous message – punishment will only be leveled where it is convenient for the team, and the team’s success rises far above any moral issues that should be learned by the players. He bows to winning, and makes that statement loud and clear to fans and other players alike by suspending him for what amounts to a slap on the wrist for something far more serious.

    It is a disturbing pattern to be sure. Olson, while justified in defending his players, failed to publicly discipline Adams in December after Adams was cited by police for disorderly conduct for refusing to comply with police instructions.

    The message Adams seemed to take from that incident was that he was perfectly capable of getting away with what others could not, as was clearly indicated by the DUI citation. Other basketball players on the men’s basketball team would be out for the year had they done what Hassan did.

    If freshman guard J.P. Prince had driven drunk? He might as well grab some popcorn, because his seat on the bench would be as close to the action as he’d get the rest of the year.

    Brielmaier? Sayonara. Bagga? Are you kidding me?

    None of these guys would have a chance. The only reason that Adams is going to get to play in the NCAA tournament is because he is the Hassan Adams. He has value as a basketball player, thus making him above the law in a sense.

    Where is the line? What is serious enough to put the foot down? Senior guard Chris Rodgers was kicked off the team for eight games, yet broke no law. Apparently endangering the lives of those in the car with him and anyone else on the road with his reckless action didn’t rise to the level of the egregious sins committed by Mr. Rodgers.

    What do you think?

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    These young men have a heavy burden to carry, being role models for thousands upon thousands of youth in our city and beyond, in addition to being the focal point of intense media coverage, for what has long since been Tucson’s team to watch since Lute came to the desert.

    While Adams is like any of us, a college student, a human being, and prone to mistakes and bad decisions, it is the responsibility of the coach, regardless of the impact on the team, to address the seriousness of the nature of the crime committed. And it is a crime, not just a simple misunderstanding or slip-up.

    Should we as a society be more responsible? Should I as an editor remove members of my staff or levy harsh suspensions of pay against them for similar infractions? I would argue it is our duty as community to cry out that we care and that we are not hardened and calloused against the seriousness involved with drunk driving.

    For the men’s basketball team, it is the job of the coach to toe the line and set the standard.

    Olson dismissed former Wildcat center Donnell Harris, a member of Arizona’s 1997 National Championship team, before the beginning of the ’98 campaign, just a few short weeks after Harris was arrested in Casa Grande for speeding and possession of marijuana.

    The Wildcats did not need Harris that season, with then-incoming freshmen Luke Walton and Michael Wright having made noise in the preseason practices, and the Wildcats returning A.J. Bramlett and Justin Wessel in the post. Adams, on the other hand, leads the Wildcats in scoring this season, at 17.3 points per game, in addition to being the team’s leader in minutes and steals, and second in assists and rebounds.

    Simply put: Adams is indispensable.

    The basketball players on our team indeed do a lot for our community, in giving back through community service projects, running camps for kids, signing autographs, and providing the excitement on the hardwood that many of us come to love and crave, especially come March.

    But if the price of winning is such that we should excuse drunken-driving by our athletes by merely slapping them on the wrist? No high-flying slam-dunk or clutch jumper in the lane is worth that.

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