"With the 56th pick in the 2005 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons select Amir Johnson." And that was it. No longer were men under the age of 19 allowed to play in the NBA. Amir Johnson holds the distinction of being the last high school player ever to be selected in the NBA's illustrious history. The NBA draft has brought in many a fine high school selections: Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal (he once was really good), Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (just to name a few). But people also will point at players such as Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair and point out the character flaws and halt in progression of their game. But how exactly does the NBA's age limit hold up? This all needs to be taken a serious look at.
Amar'e Stoudemire is one of the most talented players in the league. When he was injured for the Suns 2005-2006 season, he spent a majority of it away from the team and gathered a lot of resentment from teammates as a result of it. This season, he's constantly bickered about his role in an offense that's faltering and would spend more time talking about how awful the team is doing rather than doing anything about it on the court. I look at a player like Stoudemire and his maturity level and can't help but think maybe a little bit of college seasoning would have done wonders for his game. His personality and character will never match his potential on the court. He'll always be solid, but he'll never be great. But would he have been great simply by spending a year in college?
What exactly has college done for Greg Oden and Kevin Durant? They still entered the league as underdevloped, still maturing (both mentally and physically) players who were given a few years to progress. Does one year necessarily do the trick? Was Oden's one year at Ohio State enough to make him the first overall pick in the draft? Most would say he had that spot sewn up for whenever he decided to declare. However, the NBA's rule disallowed Oden and Durant, two legal adults, from being able to persue a career. Therein lies the problem.
It's very difficult to determine the maturity of a person and whether or not he or she is ready to contribute to an NBA franchise. But let's face facts here, players are signed out of high school in baseball all the time. All of us are able to leave high school and get a job in whatever field we want, in many cases we could latch onto fortune 500 companies as interns and with the right motivation and knowledge of the business elevate to six figure salaries in a half decade. What the NBA has essentially done is denied players their right to provide for their families and making a living for themselves. What justification can the NBA provide for denying players at 18 a right to make a living by basis of their maturity, but then simply allow them in at 19? Is the one year that much of a progression in character for the NBA? Is that one year in college going to allow that person to tap into their potential and immediately contribute, as opposed to what would happen if they left high school early?
Let's not be foolish here. This is all about marketing. By forcing these players to enter college for at least one season, the NBA allows these players to garner recognition on the college scale, develop fan bases beyond their hometowns or wherever the location of the franchise that selects him is, and also is able to pick and choose which players they want to endorse and put as a face for the league. Greg Oden was the future of the NBA before he ever played a single game. His exposure at Ohio State put a face on the name, and once the season was over the NBA went full speed on promoting someone who was now a household name.
The NBA also might try and put a spin on it and say that it's "immoral" to give these kids so much money so soon in their lives, but let's not pretend that perks and side money don't exist in the college ranks. What business did Kevin Durant, a kid from Washington D.C., have going to Austin to play college basketball? The Longhorns have a mighty fine basketball program, but they're not top tier level and shouldn't realistically have much appeal to a kid from the northeast. Furthermore, how exactly did a college freshman with no job on record obtain consistent front row tickets to San Antonio Spurs games? Do you think he donned an apron at a fast food joint and worked for that treat? Highly unlikely.
Not only that, forcing these players to attend college takes away a degree from someone with realistic hopes of obtaining a bachelors degree. Someone who wants to play sports for four years and move on to a more established career is now no longer allowed to because so many people are going to college for one year just to get noticed and serve out the one year commitment for the NBA (at least O.J. Mayo was honest about it). In the two drafts prior to the age limit put on entrees into the NBA draft, twenty one players from high school were drafted by NBA franchises. In the three years after the rule was put into effect, twenty one college freshman were drafted by NBA franchises. You tell me, what difference is this rule really making?
Is it allowing players with questionable maturity (Stoudemire and Kevin Garnett to name a couple) grow up? Or is it simply prolonging a player's declaration for the NBA draft, preventing those serious about college from obtaining scholarships and furthering a school's chances of being exposed for under the table deals being cut (ala USC with O.J. Mayo, who was very outspoken about not wanting to attend college).
I admit that going to school for at least two or three seasons would do everyone some good. But if the players don't want to go, what are the possibilities that they're going to take that one year of education very serious? For them, their college careers begin and end with the spring semester. We need to stop putting lipstick on a pig, admit that it's a pig, and quit pretending that this age limit is doing anything to better the product of the NBA or college basketball.
Originally posted on June 2nd, 2009
Let me start this off by disclaiming that I am currently a college junior and believe that anybody can succeed in school with effort and dedication. Now that I got that out of the way, I genuinely feel for Derrick Rose. Earlier this year I did an article stating that the NBA's age limit is going to cause problems, such as when we saw Kevin Durant, as a college freshman with no job on record, showing up in the front row at Spurs games. I noted that immaturity from players like Kevin Garnett and Amar'e Stoudemire and all of the failed stories are probably the reason why the implemented the age limit, but I forecasted problems ahead because you're making these players go to college when they don't want to.
O.J. Mayo is a prime example. He openly stated he didn't want to go and only went for one year. As a result, he now has USC in trouble because of his involvment with an agent and as a result of Mayo's actions, as a result of someone who was forced to go to that school when they did not want to, people who genuinely want to or have to play in college are going to have to play under sanctions or, in Memphis' case, have their accomplishments stricken from the record as a result of David Stern.
Derrick Rose is a great player. He seems like a good person. He's never been a fluent speaker but Jalen Rose went to school for three years at Michigan and listening to him analyze is like listening to an 11 year old casual fan talk about basketball. But I was dissapointed when I heard the rumors that he now is under scrutiny for his actions regarding a scandal at the University of Memphis. Rumors have it that Rose's grades were altered by an unknown perpetrator and that someone stood in for him at his SAT. I'm sure John Calipari or someone in the Memphis program knew of Rose's shortcomings as a student and set all of this up to get him into their school. Coaches like Calipari love this one year rule because it allows him to rack up wins and, given his track record, he's willing to do anything to get these players on his squad.
However, Derrick Rose is the one who's facing all the problems now, not Calipari, because of these rumors and allegations that have trickeled down to him. Rose does not deserve any of this. He most likely would have decared for the 2007 NBA Draft if high schoolers were allowed to, and I believe that his shortcomings as a student and inability to pass classes should not be translated into him being a bad person. I'm sure Derrick Rose is a good person, but now he will have to deal with these allegations for the rest of his life. The media will always bring it up, opposing fans will tease him for it, and all this because David Stern said these players have to go to college for one season.
I'm going to college to become a high school basketball coach. If someone told me I had to spend one year outside of my element, say in a autopsy laborator, to become that basketball coach, even though the autopsy lab has nothing to do with what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, I would be irate. Not only am I being forced into a situation that I did not choose, these players openly do not care about college. Is that the right attitude? No, that's not a great mentality to have. But you cannot blame Rose for not being a great student because he was being forced to go to college in the first place.
Derrick Rose is now a victim of David Stern's ridiculous age limit and I envision he, O.J. Mayo and others to only be the beginning of many troubled college programs and players as a result of this ridiculous sanction placed on eighteen year olds who have a right to make a living in any other job field.
I just think it's a shame that someone who was forced to go into an evironment is now going to be ridiculed for life as a result of his needing help in that environment. John Calipari and Memphis are as much to blame as the NBA because they allowed it all to go down instead of doing it the right away, but does David Stern genuinely believe that these college programs will do it the right way? How many retired NBA players have admitted to the gifts and benefits they've received as college stars? How many AAU coaches miraculously wind up as assistant coaches at these big school just so they can lure one of their formers to players to the said university? David Stern is going to tarnish the game of college basketball because he's forcing kids to go there.
Derrick Rose was an eighteen year old high school graduate. Not everybody who graduated high school with us was wise enough for college. That doesn't make them bad people. I know a guy who couldn't succeed in any area of college yet makes more money than I ever coulrd because he went to a technical school and is a genius with computer. Derrick Rose went to college to play basketball because David Stern told him he had to. Maybe he was not cut out for college. Yet because of Stern's stubborness, Rose has egg on his face. And I truly believe that this is David Stern's fault.