Rashad McCants: Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game


In 2004, Rashad McCants was very close to winning the ACC Player of Year Award after averaging close to 20 points per game. He led Carolina to a 19-11 overall record, but the Heels were ousted in the second round of the 2004 Tournament by Texas Longhorns. McCants finished the season as a first team all-ACC selection and a second team all-American. His All-American and overall impressive career at Carolina has his jersey in the rafters at the Dean Dome.

Per the request of UNC head coach Roy Williams, McCants sacrificed his individual accolades (i.e. going pro, averaging over 20 points as a junior, becoming a first team all American and all conference player) for the team, resulting in a National Championship in 2005.

Later that summer, McCants was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spent four seasons there, playing with the likes of Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell. By the end of the 2009 season, McCants was no longer playing basketball in the NBA. Fast forward to 2014 — ESPN interviews McCants and he states how he received indecent benefits, how he was enrolled in fake classes and how tutors did his classwork.

The University of North Carolina is waiting to hear what their consequences will be after the NCAA issued violations to the football team, women’s basketball team and men’s basketball team. Many people blame McCants for the UNC’s negative publicity. Keep in mind that scandals are nothing new to Carolina; legendary basketball coach Frank McGuire resigned from his job as head coach in 1961 amid rumors that some UNC players were point shaving. The coach who replaced him was none other than Dean Smith, who cleaned up the university’s image.

Blaming McCants for UNC’s controversy is the easy thing to do. If you are going criticize McCants for any wrongdoing, then criticize him only for his unwillingness to work with NCAA officials during the investigation. Question his motive for speaking to ESPN about this matter. Ridicule him for discussing how UNC will be playing him $10 million dollars and how the NCAA will be paying him $300 million dollars since these things cannot be proven at the moment. But, do not point the finger at him for being the culprit behind UNC’s current sanctions. He is not the only reason why UNC is in trouble. This issue is much bigger than one guy from Asheville, NC.

Blame the university and athletic department for their allowing this to happen. Blame the professors for facilitating, rather lack of facilitating, their classes the correct way. It is safe to say that many other universities have similar issues with athletes receiving indecent benefits. However, this does not condone what happened at UNC.

UNC’s fanbase needs to move past making McCants the face of UNC’s demise. Many other athletes share similar blame as him. McCants was the not first player to receive indecent benefits at Carolina and hopefully, there will not be any more players who experience this.

UNC may lose several high-profile basketball recruits from the violations. Similar to the 90s movies “Blue Chips” and “He Got Game,” college basketball represents a lucrative money-making business that has a self-destructive subculture that underminds amateur sportsmanship. This is bigger than just McCants, and Tar Heel fans need to avoid making him the sole poster boy for all the latest NCAA violations. All this behooves one of Stuart Scott’s famous phrases “Don’t hate the playa, but hate the game.