Without even letting the reporter finish his question, Andrew Harrison gave the world plenty to talk about.
“F*** that N****.”
For those up in arms ready to crucify the man based on a comment mumbled under a microphone: calm down.
Take a chill pill and learn not to take the comment so seriously.
Before casting the first stone, put yourself in the shoes of this 20-year-old sophomore. After signing his letter of intent to play for Jim Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in 2013, Andrew Harrison joined five other McDonald’s All-Americans to create arguably the greatest freshman recruiting class of all time. Playing alongside twin brother Aaron Harrison and future NBA lottery pick Julius Randle, the Wildcats rode to the 2014 Final Four as an improbable eight seed. Riding the backs of their star freshman, Kentucky upset Wisconsin to play in their second national championship in three years.
Unfortunately, the glass slipper never fit. Seventh seeded UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Co. stole the role of Cinderella in the championship game, capping an incredible run of their own while breaking the hearts of Big Blue nation. While the clock struck midnight for Kentucky, the sports world prepared to say goodbye to the once-in-a-lifetime freshman class ready to bolt for the NBA draft.
Months of speculating passed, yet no NBA-bound news conference ensued. To the delight of Coach Calipari, Andrew and Aaron Harrison declared their intentions of returning to Kentucky for their sophomore season. Teaming up with the likes of freshman sensation Karl-Anthony Towns to cement a roster of eight former McDonald’s All-Americans, the Harrison twins had one goal in mind: raising a national championship banner in Lexington.
Rolling into the 2015 NCAA Tournament undefeated, Kentucky’s perfect storm of athleticism and freakish size launched the team into uncharted conversations. “The best team ever?” Tabloids constantly bobbed the surface of ESPN headlines while the Wildcats marched their way to Indianapolis for a rematch of last year’s national semi-final against Wisconsin.
A lot changes over the course of a year. Wisconsin’s front-court featured Frank Kaminski, the AP National Player of the Year recipient, and Sam Dekker—a player who drew comparisons to the great Larry Bird over the course of the tournament. With their core all grown up, Wisconsin finally proved the formidable opponent mighty enough to hang around with Kentucky and, do I dare say, upset Goliath.
In a game for the ages, Wisconsin emerged victorious. In the eyes of Andrew Harrison, the loss meant so much more. It meant two years wasted, all for nothing. It meant the missed opportunity of playing a year in the NBA. Most importantly, it meant failing to raise a banner at Kentucky, failing to leave a mark on the NCAA as one of the greatest teams to ever play. Lost in a gaze while walking off the court in the midst of the Wisconsin Badger fight song, Harrison’s entire world caved in. The enormous expectations bestowed on a kid not old enough to drink the beverages sponsoring his game crumbled down in sheer disappointment.
Now what? Run away? Shower-up and sleep on the bus ride back to the hotel? Nope. Before a mobbed press-conference, Andrew Harrison lay at the mercy of the media, the final piece of humiliation in a never-ending nightmare. Camera lights flashing and questions flying, try keeping calm as the finality of the loss gradually seeps in. For that matter, try controlling what exits your mouth.
A reporter finally decides to pick the scab, citing the one person you failed to defend—Frank Kaminski.
“What about him makes him so hard to defend?”
Before he even realized it, Andrew Harrison loses his mind in one of the worst showcases of word vomit since the likes of Cady Heron.
In a mumble just audible enough for the microphone to hear, Harrison used a vulgarity coupled with a racial epithet in response to Kaminski’s name. The comment heard around the world ignited social media frenzy. People watching the press conference live scrambled to rewind their DVRs, thinking, “Did he really say what I think he said!”
Everyone makes mistakes. Even the greatest of saints let their emotions run over from time to time. For goodness sake, even Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes forgot his own filter at home:
Sure, one may argue that Harrison needs to act like a professional even in the midst of defeat. But does he though? Only an amateur, nobody considers Harrison a professional until he signs with an agent and receives a salary. For all we know, Harrison, per NCAA rules and regulations, leaves the University of Kentucky without receiving a penny despite the millions of dollars he helped the school generate through two consecutive Final Four appearances and numerous games played on national broadcasts. What ounce of respect does Harrison owe the media? On that night, in the heat of the moment after a legendary defeat, Andrew Harrison owed nobody any favors.
Classier than the comment itself, Andrew Harrison apologized to Kaminski as soon as the press conference ended.
So, with that said, forget about the comment. While what's said is said, Harrison won't let this define him-- he can't for the sake of his NBA career.
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