The NBA prospects dimmed (well, went totally blackout) early this morning for UNC point guard Tywon Lawson. The guard, who looked very impressive and was gaining significant buzz in pre-draft workouts, got busted for a DUI in Chapel Hill. It's unfortunate that this happened, but it might have saved his life or someone else's, so that is good. Perhaps though, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. Dean Smith, I'm watching you.
This incident does not necessarily kill Lawson's chances of getting drafted. He is, by all accounts, a good character kid who just did something silly. But, at a time when the NBA puts an incresing premium on values and good public personas, this could mean Lawson will miss out on a first round selection in the draft. He certainly looked like the most NBA-ready of the 3 underclassmen Heels that declared. Which leads me to my conspiracy theory...
Chapel Hill is a tiny town where people (and I mean EVERYBODY) knows all the basketball players and loves them like brothers. But, a few thing about this arrest strike me as khamically awkward. Lawson came out a few days ago and talked about how fickle Carolina fans can be
. How they lambasted him for putting his name in the draft and not coming back to help them try and win a national championship. He was playing great in the camps too, making it even less likely he would return. Could it be that some psycho undergrad leaked some info to the Chapel Hill Police Department so that Lawson would get booked, almost assuring that he would have to withdraw from the draft? Did the cop know who he was and what was at stake with him leaving, thus making sure he went about "just procedure" when he arrested Lawson, perhaps gluing him to UNC for another year? Did Tyler Hansbrough force him into that car and shove a bottle of Dewar's down his throat -- thus increasing the ridiculous legend this kid has made for himself in 3 years there? I personally saw cops let athletes get away with a lot of stuff during my time in Chapel Hill than any John Q. Public did. We have all seen it. But why now, why this time for them to bust Lawson?
Look, I'm not trying to insinuate anything or allege any chicanery. But, wouldn't it be so ironic if Lawson was out, not really understanding the magnanimity of his future and just acted like so many other college students? At this time, with this much on the line? And he just happened to get busted. Its a whole lot of coincidences that just don't make sense. But then again, when dealing with the NBA, there is a lot that makes little sense (see: Pau Gasol trade).
Let's assume that for whatever reasons the gods decided to make an example of young Mr. Lawson and rope him back to the University, that it will happen. What does this do to the draft? The Nuggets were eyeing him hard at #20 (yes, yes, I am WELL aware of the irony
). There isn't another young point out there, at least in the current debates, that would make sense for them to take in that spot. A lot of the playoff teams that made it deep would also love a young point to come in and learn, such as San Antonio, Boston, Detroit (if they trade Billups) and Cleveland. And, even if Lawson stays in the draft, how will GMs react? Me personally, I assume this is just one isolated incident, but what do they think? Is he now a risk? Will it hurt him and if so, how much?
There should be a lot more about this coming up in the next few days. In the meantime, go take a look at all the Tar Heel message boards. If you think I am a conspiracy theorist, wait til you get a load of those guys. And when the Heels with the 2009 National Championships, I bet the senior class all goes in together and buys Lawson a life time supply of Busch Light as part of their endowment.
(Ed. note: Lawson was only charged with "driving after consuming alcohol," not driving while impaired. Is that even a real arrest? Apparently, yes it is.)