Thursday, March 01, 2007

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel scribed a nice one today, using Shaun Livingston as an example of why it’s wrong to force kids to go to college for a year rather than letting them go straight to the NBA. (ie, Shaun would have gotten injured his first year in college, scared off NBA scouts, never made all the life changing money that he did). Have to say I agree. It’s no coincidence that just a couple years after putting in this ridiculous rule about putting in at least one year of college (or being at least 18? Not sure about the exact wording) that we have the most phenom laced freshman class in the NCAA ever. And they’ll all be gone next year.

It’s a joke, really, a rule used to pump up NCAA basketball (which was falling apart, and is now rejuvenated), to pump up the NBA (which was getting way too many rough, rough projects and can now “screen” a bit better by forcing players to “audition” in a farce of academic tinged pre-NBA lather), and at the core of it, to screw over athletes who are on the doorstep of millions, with a “no, buddy, you gotta jump through a few more hoops” (pun not intended) mentality. How can you explain rationally why Freddy Adou can play pro soccer at 15 (or however old he is) but Greg Oden & Kevin Durant have to go pretend to be students for a year before cashing in? How can Monica Seles & Jennifer Capriati (yes, old examples, but there are still young girls these days playing pro tennis for millions) clock major bills at Wimbledon in their teens but the NBA (and the NFL) have always been such a force in pressuring the youngens to “stay in school.”

Sitting in between a set of two clipper games with Seattle (which the clips won the first of last nite, their first win on the front end of a back to back the whole season, believe it or not, and their third win in a row), you can’t help (at least I can’t) but notice whose number the Sonics retired just a couple nights ago. It was the first player to challenge the NBA’s original “age limit,” one Spencer Haywood, whose case went all the way to the supreme court & who spent a year in the ABA (where he was not only rookie of the year but MVP right out the gate), until the NBA was forced to let him in. Yet here we are thirty (or so) years later, and they managed to sneak in some rules involving age and letting people through the door again. Yeah, the limit is younger, but it’s still the same idea.

Say a 17 year old kid was preeminently qualified to be top notch stock broker, that he could pick a winner 9 times out of 10, could, at that time, make his investors millions & millions of dollars? Do you think Merryl Lynch & Wachovia would (or could) let the fact that the kid is underage stop them from competing for his services and cashing in his brilliance? (this is purely a hypothetical example, for all I know there is an age limit on getting your broker’s license, or whatever you call it, but the point still stands). The point is that the powers that be try to say that this rule is in the interest of the kids, but I'm just not buying it. The kids? The kids are alright, they'll figure it out, and if they don't? if they get ground up in the NBA and should have stayed in school? well, they'll have to let that giant amount of money they made somehow soothe their savage heart, and maybe even use a percentage of it to, voila, go back to school.

The whole setup as it stands now just seems immensely hypocritical and perpetuating of the money machine that is college basketball & the NBA. It’s a long term business model meant to elevate the value of the league in every way, while letting them get what amounts to free injury insurance for a year for players they would otherwise have to compete against each other for with less assurance of what they’d be getting.

By the way, yes that is a pregnant Iman (former supermodel and NBA wife, now married to David Bowie) with Spencer Haywood in that picture. Those 6 degrees of separation just keep percolating.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your point of view on this subject matter.

3/03/2007 12:52 AM  

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