The last time I saw Kenny Klein, the University of Louisville sports information director, he was rushing past me Saturday after the Miami game, actually running from the locker room, looking for someone at the KFC Yum! Center. I had never seen him in a hurry. Must have been urgent.
A few minutes ago, here comes an email from Klein saying, “Chris Jones has been dismissed from the University of Louisville men’s basketball team. There will be no comment on the matter.”
Whether the mad dash was related or not is irrelevant. What is important is that Rick Pitino’s off-again and on-again relationship with Chris Jones is over. Jones is history.
Reading between the lines, Pitino has said over the last couple of days that he doesn’t like to suspend players, giving the impression that the final decision may not have been his.
Jones may have taken just enough steps to play one more game but whatever the issue was, it was far from being resolved. Now we wait for the explanation, with the facts trickling out of the social media scrubbing machine over the next couple of days.
An enigmatic player with tons of skill, he was averaging 13.7 points and four rebounds per game. He led the team in assists, with 94, and steals, with 53 for the season. He also led the team in dramatics, a continuing source of concern. It has been apparent to people who follow the team closely that something has been hindering team chemistry all season.
College should be the best time of one’s life, especially for a basketball player in a program like Louisville’s, the most encouraging and positive environment possible. With a Hall of Fame coach guiding him, providing a blueprint for success, offering personalized instructions and advice, Jones was in a very enviable position. Unfortunately, he is giving all that up, trusting his own instincts, left to his own devices.
Chris obviously has significant issues, distracting him on and off the basketball court. Hopefully, he’s able to work them out as he pursues other options on his own. Literally on his own.