One of my least favorite college fan things in the world is the "Immediately Turn On 17-Year-Old Recruit Who Spurns Your School By Telling Him How Much He Sucks" move. But a similarly indefensible event that seems to always happen right about now is whenever a college player who may or may not be ready decides to go pro. And then we get "Immediately Start Taking Pleasure In Watching Guy You Rooted For Slide Down Draft Board."
I don't need to cite examples in a tweet waterfall or anything like that. You know what I'm talking about. That strange switch so that so many college fans make when they feel personally wronged by a player's decision to try and go pro in the only thing he's ever wanted to do his entire life.
It happened with Donte Greene (oh my God did it happen...), it happened with Jonny Flynn, it happened with Michael Carter-Williams and now it's happening with Jerami Grant (and Tyler Ennis to an extent). Word is beginning to trickle in that Ennis is sliding and Grant might have made a huge mistake. Or at least that they're not going to be the high draft picks they expected to be. Grant might even slip in the 2nd Round.
And the reaction in some Syracuse circles seems to be...delight?
College athletics fandom is personal. All fandom is personal, really. We invest our time, faith and rooting interests in teams and in return we expect, consciously or not, for the players on those teams to keep our considerations in mind when they make decisions. Of course, it's faulty logic, but it's faulty logic to the power of ten when it comes to college sports.
We're talking about teenagers. We're talking about teenagers who have spent their entire lives dreaming of playing their sport of choice professionally. We're talking about teenagers who have spent their entire lives dreaming of playing their sport of choice professionally but who are required by those leagues to spend time in college first.
They don't come to Syracuse because that's the goal. They come to Syracuse to GET to the goal. Winning a National Title while here is a fantastic bonus, but it's nothing compared to making millions of dollars and playing for an NBA Title alongside LeBron or Durant.
Boeheim hasn't helped any by all but saying that he thinks Grant made a mistake, a move that might be honest but also gives permission to some fans to take pleasure in Grant's disappointment. "See, you should have listened to Coach. Now you're screwed." Boeheim is such an influential figure in the community, I don't think he realizes the effect his words can have. Just as there are big swaths of SU fans who dislike him, there are huge packs of fans who just regurgitate his word as gospel. Alluding to a player having made a bad decision holds a lot of weight.
Jerami Grant isn't screwed, of course. He's going to get drafted. He's going to get his shot. He's either going to play in the NBA next season or another pro league. Chances are another season at Syracuse would have improved his draft status but the overall outcome wouldn't have been drastically different. Not in the big picture.
If Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant slide down the draft board, I don't really get why any Syracuse fan would take pleasure in that. It hurts both of these young men who bled and sweat for our enjoyment. It hurts Syracuse's reputation. There's no joy in Mudville if Ennis goes 24th and Grant goes in the 2nd Round.
Ultimately it doesn't matter where they are drafted. Syracuse has had (too many) players get drafted in the lottery only to fizzle out and it's had players drafted later who have been blessed with long NBA careers. Don't get too worked up over what happens at the draft. And there's certainly no reason to take pleasure in Ennis & Grant's situation if it's not what they'd hoped it would be.
Once an Orange Man, always an Orange Man. Except maybe Fab Melo. Otherwise...G'Orange.
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