Monday, June 6, 2005


Woodling: Zero tolerance could be Giddens’ onus


Will we ever see J.R. Giddens in a Kansas University men's basketball uniform again?

The longer the flap over Giddens' participation in the May 19 parking-lot brawl at the Moon Bar goes on -- resolution won't come anytime soon -- the less the chance Giddens will return for his junior year on Mount Oread.

At least, that's the feeling I had after reading between the lines of the comments KU coach Bill Self made about Giddens to assistant sports editor Gary Bedore that appeared in Sunday's Journal-World.

Self stressed he would make the decision on whether the 6-foot-5 guard from Oklahoma City would be permitted to wear a uniform next season. Then, if Self gives the OK, it would be up to Giddens, the KU coach added, "to decide if he can live by what criteria we will have for him."

Even though Lawrence Police have not filed a report on the incident and won't, they say, for weeks, I suspect Self already has made up his mind.

First, I can see no compelling reason to kick Giddens off the team or to suspend him for a year. It's not like Giddens has been involved in a string of police-related incidents, like the ones that led to the eventual banishment of KU running back John Randle by coach Mark Mangino.

Second, I think it's safe to say Self's invitation to return will be filled with behavioral clauses, almost certainly including one that prohibits Giddens from entering any establishment where alcohol is served, even after he turns 21 in February.

Surely, that's what Self was thinking when he mentioned Giddens would have to decide if he could live with the criteria of reinstatement. Face it: Making watering holes off-limits is a stringent restriction on any collegian who considers night life an integral part of the rite of passage.

Still, by making bars and other late-night establishments off-limits to Giddens, Self would be doing his embattled player a favor. The May 19 incident and the ensuing publicity have placed a bull's-eye squarely on Giddens' back.

If Giddens is permitted to go into a bar or nightclub, he would become the potential target of a any punk or low-life who could pick a fight with him and later brag he was the one who ended Giddens' college career. Sure, Giddens could turn the other cheek, but temptation is best resisted by abstention.

If Giddens sets foot on the Kansas University campus again, he must be willing to live with a zero-tolerance edict. He must understand a no-bar rule is for his own good.

Something else Giddens would have to face next season is the inevitable derision from unsympathetic fans when the Jayhawks play on the road. Over the last two years, he has had to listen to chants of "Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart" time and again -- a reference to his link to the theft of goods from one of the ubiquitous merchandiser's outlets in his native Oklahoma City.

If Giddens does suit up next season, he inevitably will hear chants of "Moon Bar, Moon Bar" when the Jayhawks play at Kansas State and Missouri -- and probably elsewhere, too.

Would it be better in the long run if Giddens did not return to KU?

Perhaps. Giddens came to Kansas to play basketball, not to study nuclear physics. Like so many other KU student-athletes, his major is communications, and he can make a heck of a lot more money playing pro basketball than he can with a communications degree.

You've seen Giddens play enough times to know he is a gifted leaper with a flair for dramatic dunks. You know, too, that he's a good -- but not great -- three-point shooter. At the same time, you've probably noticed he has difficulty creating a shot off the dribble and, on defense, does not possess quick-enough feet to be classified as a quality defender.

NBA scouts tell us they like Giddens because he's athletic, but at the current stage of his development he's not a first-round draft choice, meaning he would be guaranteed nothing if he opted to turn pro.

Nevertheless, if Giddens decides it's time to play for pay, he shouldn't have much trouble securing a contract to play somewhere overseas. Life wouldn't be as opulent as in the NBA, but foreign clubs pay with real money.

Meanwhile, only one winner has emerged from this sad situation. The Moon Bar. It's now a Lawrence landmark.

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