With only five games remaining on the Toronto Raptors‘ regular season schedule and a ticket to the playoffs already punched, the news that second-year center Jonas Valanciunas had been charged with impaired driving early Monday morning was likely one of the last things that head coach Dwane Casey wanted to hear.
Still just 21 years old, local reports indicated that Valanciunas had been seen with open alcoholic beverages in his vehicle while at a drive-thru at around 2:30 a.m. in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, which is approximately two hours outside of Toronto.
With the facts of the incident now common knowledge, the court of public opinion has weighed in with the usual range of support, advice, anger and disappointment. But above all else, the term ”learning experience” seems to best describe the general attitude of Raptor Nation regarding the incident.
When you consider that the talented big man has never had an encounter with law enforcement of any kind during his time as a Raptors player, and that he’s said to be an intelligent young man off the court who’s often thoughtful of others, the amount of understanding that Valanciunas has received from the Raptors thus far comes as no great surprise.
But for those who’ve chosen to voice their immense disappointment on social media, or feel that this is just the first of many off-court issues involving Valanciunas, hanging on every word spoken by the Lithuanian has become a full-time occupation until something more dramatic takes place.
Yes, Valanciunas could have afforded a driver and shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel. And yes, it was a costly error in the young man’s judgement that could lead to the loss of his driver’s license for a full year and is likely to result in a suspension from the league office. But contrary to popular belief, it isn’t our job as fans to correct the hard-working import; he doesn’t need our advice, and hasn’t sought us out for council in any way whatsoever.
And despite wanting to get personally involved for some reason, our opinions don’t matter and will have zero effect on any aspect of the situation. In reality, Valanciunas is the same as everyone else in this regard, no better, no worse. Yet, while the majority of us have done things we’d rather not remember, we feel he owes the world an error-free existence because of his profession.
With the support of his teammates and the rest of the Raptors organization, Valanciunas will and has already begun to move forward. And because he’s not associated with any criminal activity, nor is he disrespectful towards the game of basketball or city of Toronto, it’s time for everyone else to do the same.