I Absolutely Never Complained About Harrison Barnes

9 03 2011

Let me make this perfectly clear; I never, not once, at any point this season complained that Harrison Barnes was in any way, shape, or form a bust. I’m not that kind of Tar Heel fan. I believe in treating members of the UNC Mens Basketball teams as student athletes and not the other way around. If a player has a bad game, a bad week, or even a bad entire first half of a season I do not complain. I try to put myself in their shoes by reflecting on their high pressure situation. These young men are between the ages of 17 and 22, they’re away from home for the first time, subject to intense media scrutiny, and have to cope academically at one of this nation’s finest public institutions of higher learning. Criticizing a college athlete, from my point of view, is simply in poor taste and that’s why Harrison Barnes has had my unwavering support from the moment he declared for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When I first learned that Harrison Barnes had spurned several major schools (including Duke University) to attend UNC my mood could best be described as restrainedly prideful. Naturally, I was pleased that he decided to attend my alma-mater, but I don’t recall acting untoward in any way. I certainly didn’t immediately get on Facebook and update my status to “Suck it Duke!” As someone who views himself as a disciple of the Dean Smith school of thought that would have been unpardonable. I certainly did not text my childhood friend James Frankel, a Duke alum, saying, “The egg must really dripping down Coach K’s rat face now. Good Lord he must be practically suicidal! Good luck next season, homo.” Harrison Barnes was just one player and one player who’d never even worn a Carolina uniform so the mere thought of that kind of gloating is ludicrous.

I even remember where I was when I heard that he’d been named First Team Pre-Season All America. I had just finished performing some charitable activity (I’m not sure exactly what, though, because I’m involved with numerous causes. It is the Carolina Way) and a friend mentioned the “good” news. My immediate instinct was sympathy for young Mr. Barnes. That kind of pressure is tough even for veteran players and I felt that it may simply be too large of a distraction for any young man. That’s why I didn’t get on my Blackberry and scour through UNC basketball message boards on my drive home almost causing several accidents.  And I certainly didn’t start a thread titled “Houston here we come!” Also, and let me be perfectly clear on this matter, I absolutely didn’t use the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” in reference to the National Guard not being able to quell a party of thousands of drunken Tar Heel fans who would presumably be celebrating late into the night Monday April the 4th. I don’t believe in pre-season predictions and that Apollo 13 reference does not even make sense.

Now that I’ve established my moderate expectations and all around cool head I think it’s appropriate to discuss the events of this current 2010-2011 UNC Basketball season. We started off slow to be sure, but I never overreacted or complained. Coach Williams is a proven winner and molder of young men and it’s up to us fans to support the team through thick and thin. That’s why I always tried to find positive things to say about Harrison Barnes and his early outings as a UNC player. I’d often comment that even though his shooting was clearly a bit off his hustle and team defense could never be questioned. After his 0-12 shooting performance against the University of Minnesota I didn’t text an old UNC friend, “Pre-season All America my ass. I hope Roy benches his spoiled ass. We should never have kicked Will Graves off the team. Who cares if he’s a pot head? At least he can fucking shoot. Barnes looks like he’s never played basketball before. I don’t give a shit about him being a well-rounded person, either. He’s here to play basketball. I feel like jumping off a bridge.” That type of reaction has no place in my life and I would never speculate on why a player was dismissed from the basketball team.

The Georgia Tech loss was a real benchmark for me. Barnes shot 3 for 13 against one of the worst teams in the ACC and our beloved Tar Heels were comprehensively beaten. It would have been easy to throw in the towel then and there, but I, like many of you, decided to persevere, to look at the bright side of things. We were 2 and 1 in the ACC. Yes, it would have been nice to beat Georgia Tech, but it was no time to panic. That’s why I didn’t drunkenly call my father, who is also a proud alum, to compare Barnes to Jason Capel. If you remember, Jason Capel was highly touted, but turned out to have a somewhat mediocre career in terms of basketball.  2 and 1 in the ACC is no time to tell your Dad, “Jason Capel sucked ass and Harrison Barnes is worse. Roy’s lost his touch. Jeannie (my girlfriend) told me to quit complaining so I think I’m going to leave her. Call me back, Dad.” After a significant loss it’s important to rally behind your team and not drunkenly over anaylyze the shooting motion of an eighteen year old. Perish the thought.

Of course, things eventually turned around for young Mr Barnes. It became clear that he was an excellent end game player. Even if his shot wasn’t falling at the beginning of the game he was never afraid to make a decisive play at the end of one. If you recall he did this against Kentucky, Texas, and Miami. I credit our coaching staff for ensuring that he retained his confidence. I’m sure Harrison was feeling external pressure from a minority of ungrateful fans, which is just unfair. That’s why I never thought to myself or even said aloud that, “We might not have so many close games if Barnes would make a shot during the first thirty minutes of a fucking game!” That kind of negativity was from my mind just as I hope it was far from yours.

Now it’s clear that Mr. Barnes is everything we could have wished for and more. His play offensively and defensively has been superb in the second half of this season. I’m thrilled for him, but I’m even more thrilled for the team. ACC regular season champs. Doesn’t it sound pretty good? That’s why I haven’t once thought to myself, “Boy, if only Barnes could have played better earlier in the season. Maybe we’d have a number one seed wrapped up already. What a little bitch ass Johnny-come-lately.” I’m not that kind of fan, I don’t respect that kind of fan, and I try not to associate with that type of fan. Let’s keep supporting our Tar Heels the right way and wish them luck on their mid-term and final examinations. A healthy mind makes a healthy body.

Sincerely,

Joe Tar Heel

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One response

9 03 2011
Pauly G

Hahaha. Good stuff.

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