Once thought of as the NBA's next great shooting guard, Rashad McCants(notes) has had a disappointing few years in professional basketball. After being an all-world recruit and national champion at North Carolina, McCants stumbled in Minnesota for the better part of four seasons and did little in Sacramento after a trade. For the last two years, he's been seeking jobs in training camps, hoping to find a steady paycheck in the NBA.
Yet despite this lack of success, McCants still has a great deal of talent, enough to make him worth a shot for a team in desperate need of scoring. This disconnect between McCants's ample talent and inability to attract NBA teams even made him the subject of an article in ESPN The Magazine this summer.
McCants now has a steady job with the Texas Legends of the NBDL, which at least puts him on track to rejoin the NBA ranks at some point in time. But as noted by ESPN's Marc Stein in his piece on the signing, McCants might have had some more reasons for staying in America:
The maximum salary in the D-League is $25,500 -- well shy of the $2.6 million McCants earned in his last season in the NBA with Minnesota and Sacramento in 2008-09 -- but the source said McCants intends to donate his Legends checks to the Urban Born youth and teen charity foundation (http://www.urbanborn.org/).
That's a small sum by NBA standards -- roughly similar to a moderate fine -- but it's still an impressive gesture. As McCants told FanHouse's Scott Schroeder, he has been working with Urban Born for some time now:
"I think that playing in the D-League is the quickest option to return to the NBA," McCants told FanHouse. "My decision to stay in the states and enter the D-League was solely based upon my family needs and working with the underprivileged youth and misunderstood kids."
McCants has been very active in helping underprivileged youth this past season while preparing to return to the NBA.
"It is in my passion to help the next generation through Urban Born and Generation 1 Foundation to get to the next level of life, McCants continued. "Regardless if I return to the NBA or not, my pursuit to enhancing the next generation will not stop."
According to Stein, McCants had also weighed more lucrative offers from foreign teams before settling on the Legends. That information -- and copious quotations from McCants' advisers in Schroeder's piece -- suggest that the key reason for staying in the United States was to get a better shot at returning to the NBA, not to help these organizations.
Still, this is excellent work from McCants. A cynic would claim that he is only using these charities to rehabilitate his image, but based on typical NBA spending habits, that D-League salary is likely a large portion of his current net worth. That's a very generous gift for the charities and a sign from McCants that he means business.
It's also a reminder that a player's on-court personality doesn't necessarily define the kind of person he is off the court. Over the past few years, McCants has been decried as a selfish gunner who cares little about helping his teammates. He seems much different in his relationship with Urban Born and Generation 1, though, and he should be singled out for those contributions. Even if this comeback fails, McCants' season can be considered a success for what he's doing for kids in need of help.