||07-20-2010 06:08 PM
Re: Rashad McCants Article
Early in the preseason, McCants was driving to the airport when he realized he'd forgotten his Xbox. Knowing his teammates wanted to play on the plane, he drove home to retrieve it. When he finally boarded, three minutes late, Wittman was waiting. A week later the two had a meeting. The coach told McCants that his teammates were complaining about his selfishness. "My heart was beating so fast," says McCants. "I didn't know what the hell was happening." Then came the kicker. "You've got 11 days to prove you belong on the roster," McCants says the coach told him, from then on not speaking to his player. (Wittman denies that the meeting took place. "I have an open-door policy," he says, "and he never walked in to say I was doing him wrong.")
The situation quickly spiraled. Wittman stripped McCants of his captaincy at a team meeting, bestowing the duties on Jefferson, Mike Miller and Randy Foye. "A couple of those guys didn't even want the responsibility," says McCants, who thought Wittman was trying to break him. Stunned and embarrassed gave way to depressed and confused. "Nobody would talk to me," McCants says. "I didn't know what was going on." (Wittman says he doesn't remember the incident. "I don't even recall his being captain," he says. But several players, including Jefferson and Love, say they remember it distinctly.) His minutes withered. "He had a hard time accepting his role," says Wittman, who's now an assistant coach with the Wizards. "He'd put his head down and pout and not necessarily give 100 percent."
But after a 4-15 start, Wittman was fired and replaced by McHale. Owner Glen Taylor addressed McCants in the locker room in front of the whole team. "We all know Randy Wittman didn't like you," said Taylor. "Kevin McHale does." A changing of the guard, though, changed nothing.
On Dec. 30, after a game in Dallas, McCants flew to Vegas to spend New Year's Eve with his then-girlfriend, Khloe Kardashian. The team was off the next day, so he had time to recover, fly back and make a shootaround on Jan. 2. But McHale caught wind of his revelry and, by McCants' lights, the coach was none too pleased. "He didn't like the fact I was dating a celebrity," McCants says. "He thought I wasn't putting basketball first." (McHale insists McCants' personal life was irrelevant: "I'm old. I didn't even know who Khloe Kardashian was.")
McCants was benched for the first 14 games of 2009. By then the team had decided he wasn't in its plans. "At that point they were just doing him wrong," says Jefferson. "And there was no explanation for it." McCants' agent called daily to ask for a trade, and finally, an hour before the deadline, he was shipped off to the Kings.
David Sherman/Getty ImagesMcCants says McHale (right) took issue with parts of his personal life.
McCants played well for his new team, averaging 10.3 points in 19.4 minutes, but a chip remained firmly planted on his shoulder. "I talked to some people in Sacramento after the fact, and they had the same problems with Rashad," says McHale. But McCants says that in an exit interview, Kings interim coach Kenny Natt told him he wished he could have done more for him. Natt, though, did have a question for McCants: "Has anyone ever told you your body language is bad? You look like you're mad at the world."
"Just because I'm not chipper like I just drank a pot of coffee doesn't mean I'm a bad guy," says McCants. And he does have his supporters. Dwane Casey, McCants' first NBA coach, says he never had a problem with Rashad. And don't get his father, James, started. James, who, with his wife, Brenda, raised Rashad and his two younger sisters in a tidy, middle-class neighborhood in Asheville, N.C., strictly enforced evening curfews and made sure his son did his chores and homework before hitting the blacktop. "He had it together as a kid," James says, "because he knew if he didn't he had to deal with me." James says people often misread his son initially but warm up once they get to know him.
It's a luxury not afforded many guys in the association. What team execs see are not-so-subtle body language cues that scream lack of interest. The slow walk back to the bench for timeouts. The thousand-yard stare. "He had the tendency to disengage," says McHale. "Unless you're incredibly, ridiculously talented, you can't get away with that." Teammates who couldn't break through the facade would go to McHale to ask if they had done something wrong. "I'd tell them, 'That's Rashad, and you just have to deal with it,'" he says. It remains a touchy subject for many involved. "He's a talented guy who played hard," says former teammate Love. "But he seemed to have his own agenda. I'm a fan of his as a player, but maybe not so much as a person." Love turns to his locker neighbor, Brian Cardinal. "Why do you think Rashad is out of the league?" he asks.
Krolik: McCants And Vegas
Rashad McCants was all set to reintroduce himself to NBA fans and scouts by playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers' Las Vegas summer league squad this week, but life got in the way. After being put on the Cavaliers' summer league roster, McCants was a no-show in Vegas. According to his agent, McCants has been tending to the family of his mother, who has serious health issues.
His agent said McCants would come to Vegas ready to perform Sunday and attend Tim Grgurich's camp the following Monday, but not everyone is on board with that plan. If McCants does play Sunday, it won't be with the Cavaliers.
"He's missed the whole time, so we're not going to bring him in here for one game, to play in that game, instead of the people who have been here for day one. No, we wouldn't play him," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said.
Scott went on to explain why he gave the former UNC standout a camp invite in the first place:
"He's a guy that's been in the league, that understands how to score. He's a true 2-guard; he has some skills. So we thought inviting him to play with the team, inviting him out to Cleveland could have been beneficial to him -- not only for us, but it would have given some other teams a chance to look at him."
-- JOHN KROLIK, ESPN TRUEHOOP
"I'm not touching that," Cardinal says before walking away. Another player, who declined to be named, walks up and slaps his own arms. "Because of these right here," he says referring to McCants' tattoos. "He lives by those." On their old teammate's right biceps is written BORN TO BE HATED, on the left DYING TO BE LOVED. "On the floor he was cocky and arrogant a lot of the time," says Foye. "Other times he just kept to himself. His motivations were maybe different than everybody else's." McHale pauses when asked if McCants was interested in making friends. "You know, I don't