Former KU players embarrass NBA

By Jason Whitlock
Updated: September 4, 2008

Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers

KANSAS CITY — Coaches love to say that an athlete’s character is revealed in times of adversity. So what exactly is revealed in times of success?

I pondered that question when I learned that Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers had been booted from the NBA’s rookie symposium in New York after they were allegedly busted smoking marijuana in their hotel room.

It seems as if it has been nothing but bad news and bad publicity ever since the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA basketball national championship. Let’s see, since Mario slayed the Memphis Tigers, here’s what we’ve heard about Kansas hoops:

•Sherron Collins asked a woman to say hello to his little, fully exposed friend in an elevator.

•A teacher was accused of falsifying Arthur’s high school grades so he could qualify for a scholarship at Kansas.

•Freshman Markieff Morris opened fire with a BB gun and hit a woman.

•And now Arthur and Chalmers embarrassed themselves breaking legal and common-sense laws while attending a seminar set up for the express purpose of explaining to them how to avoid embarrassment.

Look, I’m not going to climb on some high horse and pretend that the Kansas basketball team is shooting a version of “Boys Gone Wild.” I was once young and dumb. Now I’m just dumb.

But I also don’t want to pass this off as something that should be ignored. Success breeds arrogance, and arrogance breeds foolishness.

Arthur and Chalmers come off as dangerously foolish with their post-championship behavior. They don’t seem to get the fact that the NBA absolutely doesn’t need them.

The NBA is an extremely image-conscious league. Commissioner David Stern couldn’t care less about a late-first round and a second-round pick, especially if they can’t get on board with promoting the league properly.

Chalmers and Arthur are not Michael Beasley, a ratings-driver that the league would closet with protection.

Chalmers should have stayed at Kansas for his senior season. You don’t leave school early to be a second-round pick. His foolish decision to jump early revealed a childish arrogance.

Yes, he played well during NBA summer league play, and he has a chance to contribute to the Miami Heat this season. But as a second-round pick, he’s expendable.

Arthur completely mismanaged his entire pre-draft experience. I was in Las Vegas this summer when the NBA summer league came to town. Arthur and his AAU coach-turned-agent were laughingstocks among NBA followers, scouts, agents and some coaches. Arthur’s pre-draft preparations were amateurish at best and irresponsible in the minds of most seasoned NBA people.

The inaccurate rumors about his health would have easily been squashed by a real agent. He would have kept all his appointments with NBA teams. Arthur should have been one of the first 18 picks in the draft. Instead, he nearly fell out of the first round.

Chalmers and Arthur are damaging their futures with arrogance.

The NBA takes its rookie transition program very seriously. I spoke at the program last year. And I’m scheduled to speak there again on Friday. I know firsthand how seriously this seminar is viewed by the league.

Stern and Billy Hunter, the head of the players’ association, put a tremendous amount of emphasis on this weeklong program. The players are taught how to dress, how to deal with the media, groupies, agents, friends, family, teammates, neighbors, etc.

What happened to Chalmers and Arthur isn’t the equivalent of getting kicked out of practice. It’s the equivalent of getting pushed into the same corner that eventually led to Ron Artest’s one-year suspension.

They were fined $20,000 apiece and might start the season on the suspended list. I know they will be forced to attend and complete next year’s rookie transition program.

Obviously, there’s no reason to give up on Chalmers and Arthur. Yes, they’re demonstrating signs of immaturity, but it’s never too late to grow up. They’re good kids.

Let’s hope this helps them realize that their decision to leave college meant it was time to transition from boys to men.