By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
It looks like the numbers are probably against Mitch McGary this season, the 15-game suspension, the five other big men on the Thunder’s regular roster and the many months he he has already wasted of what appeared to be a promising career.
He was upfront about his issues and apologized to everyone when he addressed the media Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I apologized to myself, foremost, my family, my parents, but also the organization, just the community of Oklahoma City. I do think that I let them down just because of the actions that I have made. But I don't think this defines me as who I am. You guys know I'm a happy-go-lucky guy. And nobody's perfect. Everybody makes mistakes.”
Now it seems McGary finally understands the risk his past behavior has had on his future.
“I've turned a new leaf. I'm not afraid to talk about it,” he told reporters during Thunder media day on Friday. “Yes, I messed up. Yes, I'm taking responsibility. I'm sober. I'm just trying to turn a new leaf and move past this. This is something I need to do for myself and focus on myself. If I really want to have a career in the NBA.”
Many had probably wondered if McGary really did want a career in the NBA. Of course injuries have been a problem but so has his failure to focus on proper workout routines, maintaining healthy eating habits and staying away from partying.
McGary refused to blame his relapse, or continuation of his use of marijuana, on injuries, saying instead “it was just my own mistakes, getting caught up in the wrong crowds. I just want to play ball, that's it. Enough with the shenanigans. Hey, I messed up in my career in college, and now I'm kind of messing up my career here.”
Remember McGary was going to be suspended for a season at Michigan because of smoking marijuana, he decided instead to declare for the NBA draft and the Thunder took him in the first round, believing (or hoping) that his problems were behind him. Now maybe they are.
“I just have like a very strict schedule. I'm just trying to get back into playing shape right now and just try and play. Everything else doesn't need to be worried about. I'm just going home, sleeping and waking up, eating right, working out twice a day, going back home, talking to my family, my mother and father, big support system, love them dearly and they are really helping me get through this.”
His teammates have helped too, no one has abandoned McGary. But still with the Thunder roster what it is and with the team having to cut at least one guaranteed contract player before the start of the regular season it’s hard to believe that player won’t be McGary.
Thunder GM Sam Presti admitted as much during his news conference Wednesday.
“He'll be with us in training camp with an opportunity to compete. All that being said, I think it's going to be a competitive camp,” Presti pointed out. “We've got probably more deserving players lined up to come to camp than we have roster spots.”
McGary isn’t blind to this. He knows his NBA future might be, probably will be, somewhere else.
“I would love to stay here and play here but I know it would be tough for me to get minutes here,” he said. “I'm really motivated right now, I don't know if you can hear it in my voice, but I feel like sometimes you have to get knocked down in order for you to jump start something.”
McGary has always had the talent now, maybe, he has the attitude and determination to match.
“Nobody's perfect. Everybody is going to make mistakes. But I just don't want to let this define me as a player. I want to turn my life around. I want to turn the page and eventually I want to be an NBA champion, whether it's this year, next year. I just want to play ball.”