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Syracuse Basketball: Why making guard Joe Girard III a villain is foolish

Syracuse basketball, Joe Girard III (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Joe Girard III (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Recently former Syracuse basketball shooting guard Joe Girard III decided to commit for his graduate-student year to play for the Clemson Tigers.

Joe played 4 seasons at Syracuse, mostly as a point guard, and leaves the Orange as quite the polarizing figure. This puzzles me as a Syracuse basketball fan, so I’ll share my take.

Joe Girard originally came to Syracuse from Glens Falls High School. He left there as the all-time scoring leader in New York history. He’s a 6-foot-1 guard who played both guard positions but spent most of it playing point guard as Buddy Boeheim generally played shooting guard.

As for his stats, Syracuse.com writer Mike Waters did a story on his departure stating that Joe leaves the Orange after averaging a team-high 16.4 points per game and team-leading 3 pointers made with 88 last season, among other stats.

So why do some Syracuse basketball fans on social media make him out to be this villainous figure? Why all the hostility and hatred towards a guy who to my knowledge never hurt anyone and played the best he could whenever he was on the court?

Making former Syracuse basketball guard Joe Girard III a villain is foolish.

Is he a jerk and hard to root for? I don’t know him personally but I can say that in fact I’ve personally witnessed him firsthand doing selfies for several minutes at Boeheim’s Army games. He did so patiently and politely before sitting beside teammates watching the game and to my knowledge, didn’t say no to anyone.

Is he terrible at basketball? Well for 4 years, he had a scholarship at Syracuse University and was a starter almost every game while he was here. His stats would argue that he seems to have been fairly successful so I don’t see anything to support that.

Is it because he’s leaving the Orange? I don’t think so since sadly most of this negativity has been lingering around social media and such since before that. His leaving might be like fuel to a fire for many of them to vent their frustration but it’s not the reason.

Is it work ethic? I’ve heard from various people that Joe is a “gym rat” who works hard at his craft. He goes out on the court to win and does his best whenever given the opportunity.

So what is it? I’m 50 years old and been a Syracuse fan since I can remember honestly and I can’t even think of a player I’ve disliked as much as some fans seem to have disliked him. If someone asked me to make a top 5 list I’d have to think very hard and I’d bet they’d all be more because their off field stuff was criminal or reflected poorly on SU programs.

Actually the one player I had the most disdain for as a fan turned out to be a really good guy who does a lot for the community now but back then I was worried about reports of his off court actions.

It almost feels like a portion of the fan base has to just find reasons to not like players. I mean many like Marek Dolezaj are generally universally loved, like he loved his pizza. But for every Marek or Pearl, some fans will concentrate on some flaw or in game decisions gone wrong to just completely dislike a player and never forgive them.

And to some extent, I get that not every player will be your favorite player. As I said, I saw many flock to Joe Girard III for selfies so I know it’s not everyone but it’s puzzling the ones who don’t seem to at least acknowledge his positive impact on the Orange.

I personally would like to thank Joe for all his hard work and dedication to the team. I appreciated his hustle and shooting ability especially from the three-point line (where he finishes third all time in makes behind Buddy and Gerry McNamara) and free-throw shots, an area that’s often a struggle in the past for Syracuse basketball.

Joe Girard III was not the villain some want to make him out to be, and he leaves Syracuse instead after a career we should appreciate and respect.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Fast-rising PG from New York wants to hear from SU. dark