Because of the tradition, discipline and high standard of play they have at UNC, it’s not very often a highly-touted player from there becomes a complete train wreck in the NBA. But that’s exactly what happened to Joe Forte. Despite being a consensus first team all-american and a first round pick, his short two-year NBA career was filled with disappointment and controversy. Forte could go down as the biggest bust to ever come out of Carolina.
In the early part of this decade, Forte was one of the nicest guards in college basketball. He was a 6-3 shooting guard who could score at will from anywhere within 30-feet of the basket. Forte was explosive off the dribble and had that mid-range game down pat like Carmelo. As a freshman, Forte helped take the Heels to the 2000 Final Four. The following year, he took the nation by storm averaging 20.9 points, 6.1 rebounds (as a guard) and 3.5 assists. After winning the 2001 ACC Player of the Year award over players like Shane Battier, Will Solomon, Juan Dixon and Jay Williams – the 20-year-old Forte bolted to the draft, where the Celtics selected him with the 21st pick.
From the second he set foot in Boston, things started to go south. Being a skinny 6-3 guard, he was forced to move over to the point guard position. Forte was clearly uncomfortable with the position change and finished his rookie season averaging 0.8 points and 0.8 assists in 8 games.
“As a player I was prepared from a two guard position,” Forte told Elevationmag.com in 2006. “I was asked to play the point guard position up in Boston and I didn’t have the point guard skills at that time to do the point guard duty. As a person I think we have to go back to what I said earlier about emotion. I was a 20 year old emotional kid.”
His ego also got in the way. Forte reportedly had a terrible attitude and even showed up to a Celtics game wearing a Lakers’ throwback jersey. The Celtics were quick to trade Joe to Seattle that offseason. There, Forte continued his immature ways. After a tough loss, he went back into the showers and started singing – a move that earned him an OZ-style beating by teammates. That summer, he was pulled over for speeding and after searching his car, police found a small amount of weed and a gun. He had also reportedly assaulted a man during a pickup game back home in Washington, D.C. The Sonics cut ties with him shortly after and Forte hasn’t played in the league since.
Despite his failed NBA career, Forte has continued to play ball. He has suited up in the D-League, Italy, Russia and Greece. Last season, Forte played for the Italian Serie A team, Snaidero Udine. He has seemingly grown up and has taken ownership of his actions.
“I was a 20-year-old kid with a lot of money and a lot of responsibility,” Forte told the Washington Post in 2005. “I mean, I was used to being cared for, and all of a sudden I’m keeping my mom on a budget. It was too much too soon, and I just couldn’t handle it.”
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