After a week in the news, Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston talked with the media about two incidents, one he allegedly created and another he allowed to happen. Hairston was recently charged with assault and battery for allegedly engaging in a fight with Kentrell Barkley, a 17-year old high school
After a week in the news, Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston talked with the media about two incidents, one he allegedly created and another he allowed to happen.
Hairston was recently charged with assault and battery for allegedly engaging in a fight with Kentrell Barkley, a 17-year old high school
But before the dust could settle on that issue, it was revealed that suspended Cleveland Browns wide receive Josh Gordon, who was arrested on Saturday and charged with driving while impaired, was driving Hairston's car at the time of the arrest.
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Hairston did not shy away from either incident. He has dealt with off-court issues in the past and owned up to them. Hairston's candor with NBA scouts and general managers helped him during the draft process, but his continued scrapes with the law pose as a threat to his NBA future. Hairston is aware of that, and he said it is up him to move on and maintain a trouble-free basketball career.
"I wouldn't say disappointment," Hairston said when asked about the alleged fight with Barkley. "I mean, I'm still in the learning process, I'm still in the maturing process, I'm still growing. I still have a lot of growing up to do. Life is life, you're going to make mistakes. I feel like now it's just something I have to move on from."
Hairston said he has received advice from within the Hornets organization. He has had multiple conversations with head coach Steve Clifford and worked closely with associate head coach Patrick Ewing, who is coaching the Summer League team. In the end, though, Hairston said the trajectory of his career is not on his coaches.
"I don't really depend on anybody else," Hairston said. "I just really depend on myself. It's up to me to move on for the situation. Of course, I get advice. I take it in. It's like I said, i'm a man now. I'm grown. I have to take stuff into my own hands."
Hairston believes it was his willingness to lend a helping hand that got him in hot water with Gordon. In telling the story of how he met Gordon, Hairston cracked a smile, the details appearing humorous to even the man thrown in the middle of Gordon's latest off-field issue.
Hairston and Gordon met in a Fresh Market in Chapel Hill, N.C., near a hotel that Hairston stayed at prior to returning to Charlotte for the start of Summer League practice, Hairston said.
A football fan, Hairston immediately noticed Gordon and engaged in a conversation about sports. At the end of their talk, Gordon saw Hairston's new 2015 GMC Yukon and asked to switch cars. Hairston obliged and took Gordon's Mercedez Bens. Hairston said he was in his hotel room when he learned of Gordon's arrest.
The major issue started when it was revealed that Gordon was bonded out by Hayden "Fats" Thomas, who previously had a relationship with Hairston. While at North Carolina, Thomas provided Hairston with impermissible benefits, an incident that ended his college career.
"I wasn't disappointed because I didn't think it would get to the point where it is now," Hairston said. "But once I realized that he had connections with people that got me in trouble in the past, then I was like, 'Ok, well, it's probably going to be a problem.'"
It's hard to ignore the fact that all of Hairston's issues have come in the same area, and he said he plans to stay away from the Durham, N.C. area.
"Definitely," Hairston said. "I don't have a reason to be back there. I have a job now. I can't risk my job anymore. Now I have guys here that I can play ball with so I don't need to be there."
Clifford has not enjoyed having conversations with Hairston about off-court problems, stating that he would rather be at a point where basketball is their only issue.
"What I told him the other day is we need to have more meetings about his defense or his offense or his shot selection and less meetings about what he's got to do to be a dependable player," Clifford said. "To be honest with you, I'm confident that he'll get to that. He's a good person. I like him, I like the way he works. Everybody knows he's made mistakes, he's owned up to it and it's part of his maturation process."
Clifford, who has coached for decades, said he has had experiences with players he believed would have trouble staying on the straight and narrow, but he doesn't view Hairston as one of them at this point.
"Sometimes when you're dealing with athletes, which is what may job is," Clifford said, "there are guys that you spend time with that you say, 'This is going to be a challenge for him to do the right things.' I spend time with (PJ) and the more I get to know him and watch him, the more confident I am that being a good player is important to him, that he's got good personal qualities and he's going to figure this thing out."