UNC’s title spotlights May’ NBA troubles
By Mike Cranston
Associated PressCHARLOTTE ó Sean May was watching North Carolina play in the NCAA title game on Monday when Marvin Williams called asking if he could believe it had been four years since they helped the Tar Heels win the championship.
For May, the most outstanding player of the 2005 NCAA tournament, it seemed like a lifetime ago.
“I was on top of the world,” the Charlotte Bobcats forward said. “Then I have a great summer league. Then, as soon as I come here, I get hurt and it’s been a downward spiral.”
May was drenched in sweat when he spoke at the end of an extended workout for team members who rarely play. The starters had long since been dismissed. But for May, this is his only action these days ó even after months of work to get to 262 pounds after being publicly admonished by coach Larry Brown for being overweight and out of shape.
“There’s no reward. A dog is going to work for a treat,” May said. “But me being a smart guy, I’m looking down the line. Maybe not playing this year puts another year at the back end of my career. It allows me to come back next year and be successful.”
After going 0-for-6 from the field in 15 minutes in the season opener at Cleveland, May not only lost his starting job but a spot on the active roster. He’s played in only 21 games since, and Brown ordered him to get to 260 pounds from the whopping 303 that May said he weighed while he sat last season following microfracture surgery on his troublesome right knee.
“You go back and look at pictures of me on the bench and my face was a lot fuller. I was just heavy,” May said. “Now I can wear suits that I wore back for the draft.”
But May is a long way from the draft, where he and fellow former UNC star Raymond Felton were given a standing ovation by Charlotte fans the day after they were selected in the first round. May has played in only 80 of a possible 324 games in four seasons, going from college star to the target of fat jokes. Still sometimes favoring that knee, he’s treated almost like a walk-on by cheering fans when he does check into home games late in blowouts.
May said he plans to get down to about 255 pounds over the summer and stressed that his knee feels fine. While it may be in May’s best interest to start anew with another team, he’s hoping the Bobcats give him another chance.
“Whether I go somewhere else or not, this is going to be home,” May said. “I’m going to raise my family here. My fiancee is from here. I love Charlotte. I love playing basketball here. And the pride in me, there’s a lot to prove still.
“It’d probably be easier for me to go somewhere and get a fresh start. But I don’t want the easy way. I would like to have another opportunity to prove myself to this organization.”
Brown said the team hasn’t ruled out May returning. As a restricted free agent, Charlotte could offer him a one-year qualifying offer of $3.7 million, but that’s unlikely. The Bobcats could match an offer from another team, but May could be forced to attend a training camp somewhere with a non-guaranteed deal.
“He’s still an asset,” Brown said. “He’s too good of a player.”
May just hasn’t proved it, so far following the unfortunate path his father. Scott May’s NBA career was derailed by injuries after he also was voted most outstanding player award in leading Indiana to the 1976 NCAA title.
Sean May is determined to have a different ending.
“When I tell my kids about my career I want to say that I struggled and had knee problems and a lot of guys with the knee injury I had quit,” May said. “But I continued to fight.”