Stratton’s Stand: James Bouknight should take a break from the NBA 

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Just this past Sunday morning, former UConn star and NBA lottery pick James Bouknight was found in his running car unconscious, while holding a gun. He reportedly had four shots of tequila in his system and decided it was a good idea to drive. He ended up in a parking lot, blocking traffic while asleep, where the police were called to him.  

The police surrounded his car and used a public address system to try to get him to wake up. Once he did, he crashed into the police cars in front and behind his vehicle. He was found to have a blood-alcohol content of .14, nearly twice the legal limit.  

Typically, this would be enough to warrant some punishment. After all, he did put many other people’s lives in danger by getting behind the wheel while heavily intoxicated. He could have killed innocent civilians. 

But no, on opening day, Bouknight suited up and played 14 scoreless minutes for the Hornets in their win against the Spurs. What are we doing here? 

I’ve been a Bouknight supporter since he came to UConn. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But at this point, he does not deserve the privilege of playing professional basketball. Mistakes happen. He used up his mistake when he crashed his car into a road sign before his freshman season started at UConn. He vowed to change but he just hasn’t learned.  

Even before this week’s incident, he had three additional court dates for reckless driving and wanton disregard. “Bouknight has several pending charges in Cabarrus County from November, including speeding and reckless driving,” the Charlotte Observer says in an article. “He was cited for driving 107 mph in a 65 mph zone, public records show. Bouknight also has charges pending from at least two other times he was stopped in Mecklenburg County, according to court records. Last Wednesday, according to court records, he was ticketed for driving 92 in a 50 mph zone, cited for both speeding and reckless driving. And he was ticketed in February for reckless driving. In both cases, his court date is set for December, records show. And a Mecklenburg County district attorney spokesperson confirmed Monday that a charge from November is also pending against Bouknight, involving a speeding offense of driving 84 mph in a 35 mph zone. 

It shouldn’t be controversial at this point that Bouknight is just a problem off the court. He continually makes people look silly for giving him second, third and fourth chances.  

The bottom line is that James Bouknight is not above the law. Just because he’s a good basketball player, he does not have the right to put other people’s lives in danger. He clearly has not learned this so far and maybe taking away his NBA career is what it will take for him to finally realize that. 

The fact that the Hornets don’t see this is unbelievable. They are completely tone-deaf to not do anything. They could at least pretend to care. At least give him some kind of suspension. But instead they show that they’re an organization that supports intoxicated driving and doesn’t have any discipline for their players.  

More so, they’re telling Bouknight that this type of behavior is okay. They’re encouraging him to do it again because he knows he can do whatever he wants without having to worry about consequences.  

In an ideal world, the former lottery pick would learn from his decisions. He’d grow and demonstrate some character development. I want Bouknight to be a mature person who’s succeeding in the NBA as much as anyone else. He’s had his ups and downs and a rocky road in the league so far.  

But at the end of the day, he needs to take some time away from the game to really re-center himself. He has everything all wrong right now. Maybe the answer is some type of medical help. It’s okay to have a mental illness; there is no shame in getting help. But we live in a time when it’s unacceptable to not do anything about it. Based on all of the incidents that Bouknight has been a part of so far, maybe this is the direction we should be looking into. 

Maybe it’s something else. But before he plays another NBA minute, he needs to figure himself out off the court and get the help he needs. He needs to do so before he hurts himself or someone else. And the issue doesn’t just start and end with Bouknight. The NBA has an ongoing history of having too long of a leash with these issues. What about Devonte’ Graham who didn’t miss a game after getting a DUI over the summer? It’s not just a Bouknight issue. But this instance should serve as a wakeup call. Right now everyone around Bouknight is teaching him that his actions are okay, and they are not. So let’s take a step back, look around and make the right decisions. 

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