December 13, 2009
With six minutes to go in North Carolina's blowout win over Presbyterian yesterday at The Dean Dome, Roy Williams instructed security personnel to eject a fan who had heckled the Heels' Deon Thompson during a free throw attempt. The man, wearing a Presbyterian shirt and sitting a few rows behind the Carolina bench, yelled "hey Deon, don't miss it!" during the second free throw, which caused Williams to turn around, exchange some words and, eventually, point him out to security. WRAL has video of the incident.
Drunk, profane fans are a menace at games, but there's no indication the ejected party was either of those things. "Hey Deon, don't miss it," is about as tame a taunt as there gets in a college basketball arena. That may be the nicest heckle Deon Thompson hears all season. When the Tar Heels go play at Duke, such a statement might be considered a compliment.
When asked about the move after the game, Williams said:
"I don't think anybody should yell anything negative at our players. Period. Let's don't make it a bigger thing than it is. But I just don't think anybody should yell negative things toward our players (when) you come in on our tickets to watch our game."
Let's not make it a bigger thing than it is? That's easy to say after Roy himself made it a bigger thing by having some cops grab a guy who was rooting for his team in an acceptable (if slightly obnoxious) manner. If the other people sitting around the Presbyterian fan were offended, they could have gone to security themselves. What's a two-time national championship coach doing worrying about what some guy from a tiny little school is saying in a game that his team would end up winning by 39? Isn't this a little beneath Roy Williams?
Because Roy is normally such an affable guy and this came in a meaningless game in the middle of December, there won't be much criticism lobbed his way. There should be. It was inappropriate for Williams to censor a fan that wasn't breaking any rules. He overstepped his bounds and should be embarrassed about his actions.
Dan Wiederer makes a good point on his blog The Fast Break: If Mike Krzyzewski had ejected a heckler at Cameron Indoor can you imagine what the public outcry would have been? We'd be comparing him to Kim-Jong Il. When good ol' Roy does it, it's folky and home-spun and protective of his players.
It's a little thing and, in the long run, not a big deal. On most nights, Roy Williams is as classy a man as there is in college basketball. Saturday, as we all do sometimes, he slipped up.