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Judgment Questions For Pair of Jayhawks

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As CelticsBlog devotee crownsy noted in our forums yesterday, Wednesday must have been a wonderfully proud day for the Kansas University basketball program.  Early yesterday morning, former Jayhawks Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur were shown an early exit from the NBA's rookie transition program after they were caught with marijuana in their hotel room.  So perhaps the KU pride bit was a tad tongue in cheek.

It would be quite a stretch to write off Chalmers and Arthur for good as basketball players and people thanks to their actions in this one particular instance.  It isn't much of a reach at all, however, to wonder rather seriously about the judgment of the two youngsters.

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This isn't a debate about the merits of marijuana laws or whether the drug should be legalized.  Because the fact is that right now, those statutes do exist, which means that using marijuana is against the law.  When an individual is about to begin his tenure in a well-paid career and will be living a very comfortable lifestyle, breaking the law becomes an even riskier - and therefore sillier - behavior than it normally is.

When an individual is at an orientation for that new job that is specifically designed to prepare him for the new lifestyle, the responsibilities that come with that and the risks of certain behaviors that can jeopardize the plush living - likely including illicit drug use and law-breaking in general - skirting the law for a momentary high goes from silly and risky to a simply dumbfounding lapse in judgment. 

Chalmers is 22 years old; Arthur 20.  Four months ago, these guys were college kids.  Kids make mistakes, many of them worse than recreational drug use.  It happens.  Hopefully, both of the folks involved here will learn from this one and avoid similar trouble in the future.  But with that said, wondering about the thought process still makes my head spin.  It's less the act of the pot smoking in this instance than it is the decision-making that strikes me as worrisome.

But ultimately, the feeling here is one simply of disappointment.  That isn't meant as the classically pompous "I'm disappointed in you, kid" holier-than-thou disappointment of which some of us observers are often guilty (self sadly included) but more in the way of simply being sorry to hear that this happened.  We're talking about two men with very good histories as college players and without outstanding reputations of poor character. 

Though yet to play an NBA game, Chalmers has fast become one of my favorites of the 2008 NBA draft class, and the expectation that I've reiterated in this space is that he'll be a solid NBA point guard and possibly even a starter this season in Miami.  Arthur was huge for the Jayhawks in the Final Four and is considered to have top-tier talent though reports about kidney issues led to a precipitous fall for his draft stock.

These two fellows have worked very hard at a top-notch college program to put themselves in the positions to have the professional opportunities they do today.  The hope here is that this will be a one-time lapse in judgment and that both men will exercise better decision-making skills in the future.  It would be a shame to see this bit of getting off on the wrong foot serve as a portent of what lies ahead for two promising prospects.