Cursing and the Carolina Way

Three minutes into UNC’s game with UCLA Saturday, Coach Roy Williams benched forward Brice Johnson. He did more than bench him, though, he sent Johnson to the end of the bench, down with the trainers, got into Johnson’s face and berated him for a good 10 seconds or so while the game continued.

Roy Williams, to the left of the ball, is bent over in Brice Johnson's face.

Roy Williams, to the left of the ball, is bent over in Brice Johnson’s face.

And there Johnson sat for eight minutes — eight game minutes — while UCLA seemingly toyed with the Tar Heels. This wasn’t any routine benching. Johnson is one of the team’s two big men starters. And the other, Kennedy Meeks, was out with a bum knee. The second-string forward and center were in the game as UCLA built its lead to double-digits.

What offense had Johnson committed?

He cussed.

“I kind of used some bad language and Coach was really pissed-off at me about it,” Johnson said. “Coach told me, he said, ‘Hey, you go sit at the end of the bench, [and] if you say anything else you can go to the locker room.”

Williams said after the game that he didn’t appreciate the language, and “we’re not going to be like that.”

Let’s pause for a moment to take this in. A team with its eye on the national championship, a team that had just lost its second game in the young season to Texas, and a team that was getting beat all over the court by UCLA loses one of its best players because he cussed?

How many coaches have you seen on the sidelines let out a string of profanities? Answer: More than you can count. YouTube has the videos.

Williams isn’t immune. Back in 2003 when he was the coach of Kansas and was asked about the UNC coaching vacancy, he famously said, “I don’t give a shit about North Carolina right now.” (His team had just lost to Syracuse in the title game.)

Maybe Williams was simply trying yet another way to motivate a player who sometimes loses focus. After all, Johnson responded to the benching by scoring 27 points as the Heels beat UCLA relatively easily.

But I think Williams is continuing the lesson of his mentor Dean Smith in teaching yet another facet of “the Carolina Way.”¬†From Smith’s book: “Former player Scott Williams on Coach Smith: Winning was very important at Carolina, and there was much pressure to win, but Coach cared more about our getting a sound education and turning into good citizens than he did about winning.”

I don’t want to make too big of a deal about this. After all, it is prudish in this day and age. But I like the lesson and the example.

15 thoughts on “Cursing and the Carolina Way

  1. Pingback: Cursing and the Carolina Way | Greensboro 101

  2. It was a good move by Daggum Roy to bench Johnson. I am sure it sent a message to the entire team about his expectations (even if his own language sends a mixed message from time to time).

    By the way, I believe what Roy said immediately after the 2003 title game was “I could give a shit about North Carolina right now.” He misused the phrase, as so many do.

  3. Among my journalistic failures was lobbying the sports department to publish a transcript of what a college basketball coach (OK, I did mention Krzyzewski) actually said to players and refs during a game…. Even in the YouTube era that seems to remain off limits….

    • Why not publish a transcript of Roy’s press conference in February 2009, where he casually used the f-word in public to journalists while officially representing the university as its head men’s basketball coach?

  4. ole Roy can do anything, say anything be anything, that he wishes to, BUT the fact remains that it is almost time to PAY THE PIPER for the privelege of calling the tune.

  5. Uhhh… who on earth cares about a few bad words when you are embroiled in a decades-long scandal that players have acknowledged and that stole away moments that players from other universities who played WITHIN the rules actually earned?

    I am baffled by this. A curse word is just a word. Actions are FAR more important.

  6. Roy himself said the f-word at a press conference in February of 2009, so spare us the pieties.

    And Roy doesn’t care about a “sound education” either. His players accounted for 167 enrollments in fake classes, which landed the whole university on probation from the accrediting agency and will soon bring his own career to an end with NCAA sanctions for his cheating.

  7. Oh please! The so-called “Carolina Way” died with fake classes, fake grades, lies and ongoing cover-ups that make Watergate look like a Sunday School party by comparison. Get over your sanctimonious self! We’re supposed to think a coach’s overreaction to a player’s swearing suddenly sets the Carolina Way right again? If only UNC were that responsive to the real issues surrounding the athletic program.

    • Did this post get put on some State or Duke message board? That’s about the only place where this post can engender this kind of over-the-top reaction.

      • And only a Carolina guy could live in this kind of denial about the “Carolina Way” or in the rarefied air of beatifying a coach who sent a player to the bench because he said some bad words.

        • Denial? Oh, I’m not in denial. I’ve written plenty about UNC’s problems. But I also give credit where credit is due. By the way, use the dictionary when you use words such as beatifying because this sure ain’t it.

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