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Hornets’ draft pick P.J. Hairston exchanges punches with high school player in pick-up game

Jul 6, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT

PJ Hairston PJ Hairston

P.J. Hairston got drafted in the first round in spite of having been kicked out of North Carolina during college for rule violations in part because teams thought he had matured. Talk to the people around his D-League team and they glowed about his work ethic and how he had wanted to move forward and create a new image of himself.

Then Sunday happened.

Hairston got into an incident with a high school player at a pick-up game, something confirmed by his agent to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Juan Morrow, who represents the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Hairston, said his client was playing in a pickup basketball game when tempers flared.

“The other guy pushed (Hairston) and he pushed back. Both shoved each other,” Morrow said in a telephone interview. At that point the altercation escalated into punches, the agent said.

“He swung at P.J. and P.J. swung back,” Morrow said adding that “both connected.”

That’s not how the student saw it

The Hornets released this statement:

“The organization is aware of an incident this afternoon involving P.J. Hairston. We are in the process of gathering additional information and will have no further comment at this time.”

According to some reports it was Barkley, a high school senior, who was the instigator. It might be easier to sort out who started a 2 a.m. bar fight than this incident, especially second and third hand.

But it is irrelevant if the youth started it, Hairston has got to walk away. Yes, tempers can get heated on the court, even in a pickup game. Doesn’t matter. He’s the pro, he’s the guy with everything to lose.

Plus, if a high schooler can get under his skin, what happens when Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett and frankly 400 other guys who talk smack during the games start going at him? And after this you can be sure they will go at him.

The question with Hairston was never his game but rather his mentality. This isn’t helping that perception.

  1. sportsfan18 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    let the “I told you so’s” come raining down…

    It’s monsoon season ya’ll…

    of course, on draft night, some dude liked that MJ had picked this kid up… my response to his post on that thread was that MJ had to before the cops did…

    Hey, at least his N. Carolina colors were Blue… here come the blue lights…

    Maybe he can hook up with Josh Gordon for a bit as Josh was driving drunk in N.Carolina the other day…

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      Yeah, I remember that. You’ve got a crystal ball.

      Remember when Lance Stephenson beat the dog piss out his chick shortly after being drafted out the 2nd round?

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:20 AM


        ya got me there.

    • rrhoe - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      Yeah,it was me sportsfan18……still like the pick tho’…..

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:23 AM


        This PJ kid CAN ball…

        But he has a ten cent brain…

        Basketball talent wise he was a great pick… but pro teams are not looking for the kinds of immature behavior that sadly, many bring along…

        The Eagles dumped a high performing Desean Jackson for reasons that were not related to production on the field, as it was excellent.

        Teams are shying away from players with “issues” off the court and PJ’s had them and for my money will continue having them whether he’s on an NBA team or not.

      • dacapt704 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        I did too sports fan…PJ’s skill set is what we need here so it was a good selection. THIS however, is extremely stupid. He’s lucky he wasn’t over at West Charlotte or Garinger high acting a fool or the headline would have been MUCH different…those kids don’t push and shove

  2. ranfan12 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    settlement time

  3. nfl4days - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    PJ don’t take no ****

    • ranfan12 - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:52 AM

      gonna end up taking a few suspensions if he isn’t careful

  4. captainwisdom8888 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    Those of us who weren’t in the gym that day do not know the real story of what transpired, but all I know is that if a full grown 17 year old guy started throwing haymakers at my face will full intent to cause me harm…I am undoubtedly gonna send a few back his way. I highly doubt Hairston took it upon himself to initiate a fight and start swinging on a high school kid…

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      why? because you are a unc fan? You would honestly be surprised if PJ Hairston did something stupid?

    • spthegr8 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Regardless of any of that. He is a supposed to be a “Grown man”. He has no business fighting a kid. PERIOD!!!

  5. aldavisfortytime - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    I’m surprised “VIDEO” wasn’t in the headline.

  6. drewzducks - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Must have been a heck of a game. I heard PJ was hitting everything in sight.

  7. justtoldya - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    I don’t condone his actions and I think being in his situation just getting drafted and already having a bad rep, he should had been more mature and professional then the high schooler. However some of these high schools are big punks these days and some deserve to get a little lesson. I don’t know what happened so I’m not quick to judge morrow”

    • norcalkingsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      Seriously, kids are punks.

    • dacapt704 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Regardless…its called being a grown man. This is why we are considered adults, we should have the sense of responsibility that kids/teens dont.

      I understand what you’re saying trust me, I mentor in the high schools and coach football & basketball and its very testy out there…but as the adult, I always have to maintain my maturity and be above any nonsense the kids might want to start. Either PJ learns this now or he will face MUCH worse on the court night in and night out. If a teenager can provoke you to a fist fight, then who is the real loser (not you, just in general)

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        He isnt a grown man. He is a kid himself. 21 years old is a kid in my eyes

      • ddarqwon - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        I’ve played my share of pick up games so I know how tempers can flare sometimes. As such I really view this as a non-story. I’m sure the “kid’s” lawyer will disagree.

        I would like to say though, it’s easy to take the high road from behind a computer screen, but what’s the response when a 6’+, 200lb “kid” takes a swing at your face in real life?

  8. beavertonsteve - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Funny that the headline reads “exchanged punches” when that’s the version coming from Hairston’s agent.

  9. ranfan12 - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    hardly an nba player and already getting into trouble off court? you’re ready for the big leagues

  10. trickybastard - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    Finally NBA players actually throwing punches instead of shoving I like it

    • titansbro - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      nice, great comment

  11. lakerade - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:20 AM

    Was the exchange a sign and trade type deal or what?

  12. campcouch - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:58 AM

    C’mon,we know how it is. Youngster wants to show up NBA star and does something to prove himself. Jibber-jabber starts, pushes, someone swings, the other guy flails back, everybody is like, “hold me back dawg,hold me back”, then the game ends.

  13. money2long - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    We’ll if the pushes came first I doubt it was just the smack talk that got Hairston to swing.

  14. ravenswhat - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Knowing how most 17 year olds act I would guess Hairston prob didn’t beat him enough.

  15. lenbias34pt - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Every dog barks, very few bite.
    Harrison is a dog that bites. It’s good in some regards, but not sure pick up games with 17 year-olds is where you need to prove you wont’ back down.

    I see Marcus Smart as a guy with a similar temperament…..but he is far more intelligent.
    That is the big Question with PJ.
    Does he have the ability to learn?

  16. themagicfanguy - Jul 7, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    I can see the media has decided this guy is going to be one of the new crop of “thug” players, as if they knew anything about him or if he deserves the rep they’re forcing on him. I mean we all know that everybody here would back down and meekly walk away if someone took a swing at is during a pickup game right? Why do bloggers and reporters feel the need to act like real life is the WWE? Pathetic.

    • titansbro - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      i didn’t see the word “thug” anywhere in that article. seems like they were just reporting the story from both sides. i mean, his own agent says he punched a high school kid. & the article clearly points out (for anyone with a brain) that it’s impossible to decipher how it really started.

  17. kb2408 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Sometimes pickup games get heated and dudes throw a few left hooks and roundhouse rights at each other’s domes. It happens. Btw, hey billbitely53, you down for a pickup game?!

  18. bobaboohee - Jul 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    This kid is the caliber of player the NBA wants. It’s a thug league. It’s the worst sport in the world. Only fools are entertained by the nonsense that is basketball.

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