In the NBA it pays to get a DUI. You can fail up. You can make your life better. There is no better example of this than former Denver Nugget point guard Ty Lawson who was arrested on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. Some five days later, on a Sunday night, Lawson was traded to the Houston Rockets.
Whether it was his intention or not, Lawson engineered a trade from a bottom feeder to a contender by drinking too much and failing a sobriety test and going to jail for the second time in six months. On Friday, Lawson agreed to a 30 day rehab at the celebrity warehouse, Cliffside Malibu. Now he has the opportunity to play for a NBA title.
Is it fair? Probably not. But it is how business works. The NBA is in the talent delivery business. When talent is available teams fight each other until they are bloody in the nose just to get the fallen from grace star. The bottom line is always the bottom line. Winning brings money. Money brings access. Access brings fame. Fame brings more money.
In regards to Ty Lawson there is no argument about his ability to deliver passes and make shots. It’s the rest of it that is a gamble for the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have no idea when Lawson is going to be available to play. He has yet to be sentenced in his first DUI case much less his second. Prosecutors are a little sensitive about defendants getting another DUI six months after the first, like you just don’t give a shit. And if he leaves rehab early he will be arrested.
Lawson’s rehab stint doesn’t prevent the Denver and Los Angeles courts from ordering Lawson to serve jail time. After all, this is his second offense in six months. Depending on the toxicology reports from his Los Angeles arrest, Lawson may get off with probationary supervision, a breathalyzer in his car, suspended license, ankle bracelet monitoring, alcohol abuse classes, community service and a hefty fine. Or he can be an example the courts use to get ordinary people to pay attention. When you get the first DUI, take it seriously people.
Judges have all the discretion on sentencing and depending on who Lawson gets to hear his case will determine his immediate future. And yet, that is not even the most important thing here. Whatever penalties that accrue, Lawson will pay them even when it is the NBA’s turn to be judge and jury. Yes, these assorted punishments will inconvenience Lawson but he’ll get through it. The bigger issue is Lawson himself. Can he get his life together? Professional sports, in a nutshell, is performance under stress. Can Lawson manage his professional responsibilities?
The Rockets plan to have John Lucas work with him which is a good thing for Lawson. At this point in his career he needs a supportive team around him that doesn’t have blinders on and understands that two DUI’s in six months means you have a problem. Lawson is 27 years old and is approaching his basketball prime. He has the potential to grow from this experience, atone, mature, accept responsibility and assistance, and develop, not as a basketball player but as a human being.
The Rockets are a better team because they acquired Ty Lawson. That is what the numbers say, 15 points, 9 assists last year. But will Ty Lawson be a better person because he is on the Rockets?
photo via Wikimedia.org