ESPN.com currently has on its NBA page a mock draft application that shows different scenarios depending on the way the lottery goes. I’m a Knicks fan so I wanted to see our chances of getting Michael Beasley. However, I realized early on something more interesting – all of the players being chosen as the top 14 “picks” were not even close to being seniors. All but one player was a freshman or sophomore and he was Italian. The only reason why most of these guys are in college is because of the 1 year rule instated by the NBA. Names like Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, and OJ Mayo continually popped up. No Pitt guys showed up, not that I was expecting that at all. But I realized something very interesting about our team and the guys who come to Pitt. It is something that people have pointed out time and time again, but it is something very important.
We don’t get McDonald’s All-Americans and our guys don’t become superstars in the NBA. I know and I’m proud of that. Ronald and Keith might not have turned out the way we had hoped and Mike’s story is just tragic, but they stayed. I know they didn’t have reasons to leave, but their commitment to the program is something to be admired. The commitment started with guys like Brandin Knight and Chevy Troutman and everyone in between (except Chris Taft – he slept through the class on loyalty and respect). We never have the most talented guys and, like I said, I know that this argument has been made many times before. However, I would take Ronald Ramon, a shooting guard who has lost his shot, over Michael Beasley or Eric Gordon or any of those future lottery picks any day. I would rather lose with Keith than win with Jerryd Bayless. Ronald, Keith, Mike, and even Maurice have great memories of Pitt and their playing days here that they can look back on. I doubt that these lottery pick superstars have the same attachment to their schools.
Whereas Beasley can only say he played a year at K-State, Ronald and Keith and all of the guys that go all the way through this program can say that they are Pitt men. These players have every right to leave early and I agree with their reasons. I just feel sorry for the fans at these schools. I can also say that I am a Pitt man and I am proud that these seniors represent my school. In all likelihood, K-State will not win the NCAA tournament so at the end of the day, its fans have nothing to share with Michael Beasley. He has used them as a pit stop, a proverbial weigh station. It’s out of the way of his ultimate goal, but he has to do it. He will never be brought to tears by the sight of adoring fans who have shared his highs and lows or share a connection with a coach that stood by his side at his most vulnerable time. That is something that cannot be replaced by a shoe deal or a signing bonus.
I will not be at the game tomorrow and I am very upset about it. I wish I could be there to give these gentlemen of Pitt their proper appreciation. These four gentlemen have given their time and effort to Pitt and for that I thank them. Keith, Ronald, Mike, and Maurice will probably never play in the NBA, but knowing that they gave all they could to the team and to the fans is all I could ever ask for.
To you four men, I say thank you.
Hail to Pitt