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Alabama’s Reaction to Brandon Miller’s Pre-Game Introduction Shows True Priorities

By allowing the forward’s “pat down” introduction to continue, the Crimson Tide showed their true colors despite claiming to take a murder investigation “very seriously.”

The next time someone at the University of Alabama pretends to care about the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris, the next time some leader insists that they’re “taking it very seriously,” please tell them to stop. Just be quiet. Don’t even try anymore.

Nobody believes it.

The proof of the Crimson Tide men’s basketball program’s callous disregard for its own involvement in Harris’ death in a wild shootout on the morning Jan. 15 keeps rolling in. The latest came during the Tide’s pregame introductions before defeating Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Hennessy of Birmingham TV station WTVM tweeted a video of star player Brandon Miller being introduced with his arms spread wide and a teammate patting him down.

The obvious inference from this is that the teammate was checking Miller for a weapon. Those clever, clever kids.

This apparently has been Miller’s pregame intro all season. Nobody involved with the program thought to end that routine in light of current events.

Can anyone at this university realize that maybe—maybe—this is an extremely bad look for a player who allegedly transported the murder weapon in his car to the scene of the crime and was present during the killing? That former Alabama player Darius Miles is charged with a capital murder that was committed while he was on the team? That fellow starter Jaden Bradley was allegedly also at the scene of the shootout?

Can anyone at Alabama show some class and accountability?

It took a viral firestorm generated by Hennessy’s tweet to get the tone-deaf Tide’s attention. After a very long wait between the end of the game and coach Nate Oats’ appearance for his postgame press conference, he addressed his program’s latest grotesque moment of the week.

“It was brought to my attention after the game,” Oats said, noting that he doesn’t watch pregame introductions because he’s drawing up plays. “I think that’s been going on all year. Regardless, it’s not appropriate. It’s been addressed. I can assure you it’s not going to happen again the rest of the year.”

Alabama Crimson Tide basketball, Brandon Miller, head coach Nate Oats

Alabama basketball’s Brandon Miller is still playing despite allegedly bringing a gun to a crime scene.

Alabama continues to react, not act. The school kept Miller’s involvement in the shootout secret for as long as it could, until a Tuscaloosa detective dropped that bombshell during a hearing Tuesday. Then Oats uttered some of the worst words ever from a coach, when he dismissed Miller’s presence at the crime scene as “wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Now this. Apologies and damage control are the themes of the week for the nation’s No. 2 men’s basketball team.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of head coaches who don’t watch pregame introductions. But somebody does. Oats has three full-time assistant coaches and 11 people listed on the team website as support personnel. Alabama has squadrons of athletic department staffers who assist in game management. Or simply attend games. And they have eyes.

So, did all those people have no idea that a star player who is part of a massive, gun-related controversy was routinely playing pretend pat-down in introductions? Either Alabama’s remarkable run of cluelessness regarding this murder aftermath continues ... or, more likely, nobody who has watched Miller being patted down this week—and in weeks prior—ever raised an objection about it. Because they really, actually don’t care.

Miller himself apparently thought nothing of this pat-down ritual, either. The young man, who has avoided missing any playing time, is doing himself no favors.

“He completely understands the situation is tragic, and he takes it seriously,” Oats said Saturday, a statement that is not backed by any evidence from Miller himself.

It probably shouldn’t take a coach or administrator to tell a 20-year-old who is fortunate to A) be alive and B) still playing college basketball that the weapon-search pantomime needs to end. If the Wednesday statement is accurate from attorney Jim Standridge, Miller’s lawyer, the player was in his car when his windshield was struck by two bullets from the shootout. Harris was, of course, not as fortunate, dying inside another vehicle from shots allegedly fired by Miles’ friend, Michael Davis.

A man lives through something like that—and then becomes immersed in controversy when the world discovers he played a part the shootout happening—and you’d think the gravity of it might sink in a bit more. Instead, it’s another embarrassing moment for ‘Bama to try to plow through on the way to March.

But, hey, Brandon Miller scored 24 points against the Razorbacks. Earlier in the week he scored 41 against South Carolina. And those numbers—along with Alabama’s victories—are all that matter to a significant segment of the Tide’s fan base.

A legitimately abashed athletic department, one chagrined yet again by the words or actions of its men’s basketball team, might have stepped up Saturday and suspended Miller and Oats for the next week. Miller doesn’t get it, and Oats doesn’t want to do anything about it.

But that would mean missing a game against arch-rival Auburn and SEC second-place team Texas A&M, with an undisputed regular-season title and league tournament No. 1 seed there for the taking. We know what really matters, because the Crimson Tide keeps showing us.

Don’t believe the hollow words of sympathy, just look at the actions.