(* for those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Mackey, click here for his personal saga….)
The Indianapolis Star reported tonight that former Hoosier standout Eric Gordon spent time living off-campus during last year’s tumultuous season in large part because of the drug use that was occurring among members of his team. He declined to name names of the users, but he did say the following:
Gordon didn’t say which players used drugs, but he said D.J. White and two others still on the team were among those who did not. Attempts to reach White and several other former players were not successful. Gordon said Sampson “tried to stop it,” but the coach “was just so focused on basketball and winning and everything.” Gordon said he spent considerable time with a family friend in Bloomington because the atmosphere around some players was so bad he didn’t feel comfortable on campus. “Sometimes it felt like it wasn’t even a real basketball team because of all the turmoil that went on,” said Gordon, now a starting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers. “I was just thinking about that the other day. It was so crazy that all that stuff threw off a good season and made it a waste, basically. “It was really tough for us to be around each other all the time off the court because we were so separate.”
If true, this confirms one of the oft-repeated rumors in Bloomington as to the seedy underbelly that led to the demise of Kelvin Sampson possibly even moreso than his ridiculous phone call scandal. Certainly if Sampson had knowledge of certain players using drugs and he “tried to stop it” but ultimately turned a blind eye to the matter, then Indiana administrators – no dummies, them – would have caught wind of this problem and looked for any way possible to get rid of him. This also explains the mass exodus that took place both prior to and upon Tom Crean’s arrival in Bloomington.
We do have one question for Eric Gordon, though, and this in no way should be taken to suggest that we think HE was involved in any illegal activities. But, it’s a little hypocritical to throw a bunch of your teammates under the bus for a failed season when your own numbers dropped significantly in the last two months of the season, isn’t it (see above fg%)? Perhaps he’d argue that his mind wasn’t into it anymore because his teammates were more concerned with snorting blow than beating Izzo, but we think, as the best player on the team, he should have taken some responsibility and looked into the mirror with the rest of the clowns to explain IU’s miserable finish in 2007-08 (8-6 after beginning 17-1) .
Update: We wanted to address a post by the Indiana blog Cannot Falter, which accuses us of shooting ourselves Plaxico Burress-style by failing to mention that Gordon was suffering through an injury to his non-shooting wrist through the second half of the 2007-08 season. They’re right in that we should have mentioned it as a contributing factor, and for that omission, we apologize. They’re wrong in that we still don’t believe that was the sole reason for his precipitous decline in play, ESPECIALLY after Kelvin Sampson was fired (the wrist injury was on Jan. 29; IU’s first game w/o Sampson was on Feb. 23). Not only did Gordon’s FG% drop to a disastrous 32 percent over his last seven games post-Sampson, but he also committed 4.2 turnovers per game in that span (from 46.6% and 3.4 tos). Was that all due to his wrist injury? Or did he quit playing and lose focus along with the rest of his drug-addled teammates in those games after his coach was let go? You tell us.