Mitch McGary on criticism over positive pot test at Michigan: ‘Whatever, so what’ (video)
When Mitch McGary tested positive for marijuana in March while nursing a back injury that prematurely ended his season in December, the then-Michigan Wolverines basketball star read the writing on the wall. Either accept the customary one-year NCAA suspension, meaning he would miss the entire 2014-15 men’s basketball season, or declare for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Of course, McGary chose the latter, even though declaring for the draft wasn’t without risk, given the nature and the incident that motivated his decision to come out early.
Everything ultimately worked out alright for 22-year-old, as the Oklahoma City Thunder selected the Michigan sophomore with the 21st pick.
After McGary made the decision to declare for the draft in April, he characterized the entire situation as a mistake, saying that on the night in question, after a few drinks, he simply decided to partake when offered marijuana — something he characterized as commonplace — instead of opting out, as he had done every other time before that during his career at Michigan.
“I always turned it down,” McGary told Yahoo Sports in April. “But that night I didn’t.”
He also accepted responsibility for the situation he found himself in, but instead of dwelling on the past, McGary elected to focus on the future.
“I don’t want people to think I’m overlooking this, because I’m not,” he said. “But I’m a positive person. I messed up. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s in my past now. I’m just going to try to learn from it.”
Fast forward to this week. With all of it behind him and ready to start his NBA career, McGary has an even more pragmatic outlook on the positive pot test that was administered after cheering on his Wolverines teammates in their Sweet 16 game against Tennessee, which ended with a 73-71 win.
In fact, McGary is almost nonchalantly defiant now about it all, if that is even possible, shrugging off the entire incident with the clear indication that he’s ready to move on from it.
The Thunder rookie did an interview with Vice Sports where he discussed the test, the suspension and how the two has led him to the NBA.
“I ended up getting injured and then having this little, uh, suspension that forced me to leave,” McGary said, via Eye on Basketball. “Overall I think it was good for me. It was a learning moment, and the way I handled it was mature and responsible, so I think people actually took my side and went against the NCAA rather than being like, ‘Hey, you’re some druggie.'”
McGary then went on to discuss how he continues to be criticized about it on social media.
“I get people on Twitter and Instagram, still comment and stuff. ‘Hey, you did drugs.’ Well, I did. Whatever. So what. I learned from it and it was in college. … It was the opposite of harming somebody. The NCAA’s a little harsh on their penalties. I don’t think the penalty fit the crime.”
A lot of people both inside and outside the world of college basketball happen to agree with McGary’s assessment of the penalty imposed upon him, arguing that the NCAA’s policies on recreational drug use — in particular marijuana — are draconian at best.
Saving the best for last, McGary says near the end of the video that he hopes some kids will learn from the predicament he found himself in, although perhaps not in the manner one may suspect.
“Just don’t get caught,” McGary says, which is some pretty good advice, even if the wisdom dispensed by the basketball player may not necessarily be words to live by for the modern college athlete.