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St. John's basketball: grassroots flavor added with Kimani Young

Follow up on New Heights for St. John's...

Update on St. John's new coaching hires: the NY Daily News reports that Kimani Young (now-former) director of the non-profit New Heights basketball development program will be hired as the manager/ video coordinator; Oswald Cross, former coach at Our Savior Lutheran High and the Long Island Panthers, will have an administrative position.

The Daily News article makes mention of Kimani Young's arrest 8 years ago with 96 pounds of marijuana... and also how he has since been devoted to community service, running a Police Athletic League center in Brooklyn, working for New Heights for the past couple of years.

The New Heights program in particular sounds like an impressive program, one I would volunteer with if I were still in New York - it mixes organized basketball and teamwork with the values that help a kid be successful in the rest of their lives. Isn't that how fans like to think of basketball? Teamwork and values, along with a chance to get a college degree for basketball service?

Be forewarned: this is the opinion section of the post. I bring up the values issue because folks on the message boards (and surely, reading the article) are crafting their best marijuana jokes, creating spurious claims of "well, a drug dealer doesn't stop with marijuana," and other moralist arguments as if a conviction removes a man or woman's ability to impart values on youth.

That's just flat silly. The kids that I know respect someone who's gone through some "real sh*t" over a person who is far removed from the lives they see, or the stories they perceive as adjacent to their experience. That person can tell you "don't do that thing that I did - you can see, there was little benefit, and it's taken me years to get to this point."

And barring that argument (and ignoring the fact that St. John's kicked Willie Shaw out for smoking pot, though he was a repeat offender, and his role on the team was slipping), man, it's marijuana. A lot of marijuana, but really. Cocaine dealers are scum, heroin dealers are worse, and meth labs are awful. "Mary Jane" is illegal and I'm no smoker, but I can't get heated about a blunt smoke provider.

Moreover, a Catholic school should be all about giving a fellow a second chance, an attempt at retribution. It's supposed to be the Christian way. But if Coach Roberts starts hiring lepers and tax collectors, we're gonna have problems.