Tag:NBA age limit
Posted on: June 4, 2009 10:49 am

I'm OK with HS graduates making bad choices

My story about U.S. Rep Steve Cohen's attempt to eliminate the NBA's 19-year-old age minimum for U.S. players to enter the draft has received a lot of feedback, as expected. The complaints are mostly typical, and not really worth debating here. But there is one point I'd like to stress, a point that always comes up, but one I never understand.

Obviously, people no longer try to pretend that high school players can't succeed.

That would be silly given LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and many others.

So now the argument I hear most regularly is that though LeBron and Kobe are great, what about Korleone Young, Lenny Cooke and all the other prep stars who tried to turn pro out of high school but failed miserably? My point is always that those guys made mistakes because they weren't projected first-round picks, meaning they should've never been in the draft in the first place. They simply made bad decisions. And then the guy I'm arguing with usually claims an age limit is needed to prevent more high school graduates from making mistakes, and that's where I get lost and fail to recognize the rationale.

My question: Why do we care if high school graduates make bad decisions about their careers?

God knows how many high school graduates skip college to try to pursue careers in acting or singing or poker (or you name it), and many of them (if not most of them) are making bad decisions when they do it. For every Conor Oberst , there are thousands of young songwriters living out of their cars, totally broke. But who cares? They are adults free to make decisions about their paths in life. And if we don't care about those high school graduates who might make mistakes, why do we care about these high school graduates who might make mistakes?

Beyond that, is it right to keep a Conor Oberst or Jeff Tweedy from doing what they should be doing (i.e., making music for money, ASAP) because somebody trying to follow their paths might not be good enough to do it? Of course not. So why keep a John Wall or Renardo Sidney from doing what they should be doing (i.e., playing basketball for money, ASAP) because somebody trying to follow their paths might not be good enough to do it?

And beyond that, why do we care about the 18 year-olds who might make bad decisions but not the 19 year-olds?

Seriously, what's the difference?

Do you have any idea how many college freshmen, college sophomores and college juniors make bad decisions about the NBA Draft each year? Why don't we think it's important to keep them from making bad decisions? Why is it that we feel obligated to keep a Korleone Young or a Lenny Cooke from a bad choice, but not a Darius Washington (left Memphis after his sophomore year and went undrafted) or a Harvey Thomas (left Baylor after his junior year and went undrafted)?

Again, I don't get it.

And the reason I don't get it is simple: Because it makes no sense.
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 3, 2009 4:27 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 5:17 pm

Congressman asks NBA to eliminate age-limit rule

U.S. Rep Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) wrote a letter Wednesday to NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter that asks them to eliminate the league’s 19-year-old age minimum for U.S. players to enter the draft.

CBSSports.com obtained a copy of the letter from Cohen's office.

"I am writing to express my deep concern over the policy of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to bar athletes from playing in the league on the basis of their age," Cohen's letter to Stern begins. "The '19 plus 1' policy, which requires American players to be at least 19 years of age and one year removed from their high school graduating class, is unfair restriction on the rights of these young men to pursue their intended career. I also believe that it has played an important role in several recent scandals involving college students who were prevented from entering the NBA upon high school graduation. I ask that this policy be repealed when the NBA completes its new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Player's Association."

Cohen expanded on his thoughts in an afternoon interview with CBSSports.com. He said that though he represents a district that includes Memphis, the timing of his letter is unrelated to recent news that the University of Memphis men's basketball program has been charged with major violations by the NCAA. Rather, the timing is connected to Thursday's start of the NBA Finals, and Cohen said he has long planned to send his letter this week because he expected two stars who never attended college to be participating on the sports' biggest stage.

"We've been looking at the issue since April, to be honest," Cohen said by phone. "We were expecting a Kobe-LeBron Finals, but we got a Kobe-Dwight Finals, which is just as fine because we've got two players who went straight from high school to the NBA (in the Finals), and it didn't seem to hurt them at all in their development as players."

Cohen said he talked with Al Harrington about the issue at The Kentucky Derby.

Harrington entered the 1998 NBA Draft after graduating high school.

He has made more than $40 million as a professional.

"(Harrington) brought (the issue) up," Cohen said. "He said it ought to be changed."

The age-limit rule first affected high school players who would've otherwise been eligible for the 2006 NBA Draft, specifically Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Thaddeus Young. It is also considered the primary reason why O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose spent one year each in college -- a year that subsequently caused Southern California and Memphis to deal with allegations of NCAA violations.

Cohen reiterated that he believes the age-limit rule is responsible for these scandals. He added that he's "looking into proposing legislation on the issue" and that he wants Stern and Hunter to appear before Congress and "explain what their position is."

"It's a restrain of trade on these kids, and you see it in the NFL and NBA," Cohen said. "You don't see it in Major League Baseball. I was watching the (Memphis) Redbirds play ... and I was looking at the field and there wasn't an African-American player on the field when the Iowa Cubs played the Redbirds (in a Triple-A baseball game). I didn't see one on either team, and I thought, 'This is a white sport. And tennis is a white sport. And golf is a white sport. And swimming is a white sport. And hockey is a white sport. And they don't have these restrictions. But basketball and football are predominantly African-American sports, and that's where they have the rule that forces players into college (instead of) going straight to the pros. Something here doesn't compute."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:59 am

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Anybody who reads here much knows that -- though I loved writing about Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Tyreke Evans -- I think the NBA's age-limit rule preventing high school players from jumping directly to the NBA is ridiculous, and that those who pretend college basketball is necessary to prepare prospects are either stupid, naive or blind to all the information suggesting otherwise.

Which brings me to these NBA Playoffs.

We are now down to the final four teams, and the leading scorer for those four teams - Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets, LeBron James of the Cavs and Dwight Howard of the Magic -- combined to play a grand total of one season of college basketball. Furthermore, none of the top three regular-season scorers from the Lakers (Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) or Magic (Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu) played a minute of college basketball, and none of the remaining contenders' top three scorers from the regular season did more than two years of college.

Now look at it this way ...


  • Kobe Bryant: Zero years of college
  • Pau Gasol: Zero years of college
  • Andrew Bynum: Zero years of college
  • Carmelo Anthony: One year of college
  • Chauncey Billups: Two years of college
  • J.R. Smith: Zero years of college
  • LeBron James: Zero years of college
  • Mo Williams: Two years of college
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Zero years of college
  • Dwight Howard: Zero years of college
  • Rashard Lewis: Zero years of college
  • Hedo Turkoglu: Zero years of college
Add it up and nine of the 12 leading regular-season scorers (who are currently active) from the Lakers, Nuggets, Cavs and Magic never played college basketball. Six (Bryant, Bynum, Smith, James, Howard and Lewis) went directly from American high schools to the NBA, three (Gasol, Ilgauskas and Turkoglu) are international players, and the other three (Anthony, Billups and Williams) played in college for a combined total of five seasons.

So again, I love college basketball would like to see all the greats play four years.

I'm sure you would, too.

But let's not pretend it's always the best way or even necessary to develop as a player.

Because these NBA Playoffs are clearly suggesting otherwise.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 25, 2008 10:23 am
Edited on: June 25, 2008 10:25 am

Dear Gary ...

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Brandon Jennings should go straight to Europe and do what he loves and enjoys doing -- playing basketball and entertaining the fans. This NBA age-limit rule should be illegal considering young adults can go pro in golf, tennis, ice-skating, soccer, etc., and make a living doing what they enjoy.

-- Thomas

You're preaching to the choir, Thomas, though I don't know whether the NBA's rule that prevents high school players from going straight to the league like LeBron James, Kendrick Perkins and many others once did should be illegal, exactly. I'm not a lawyer and couldn't possibly speak to that with any sort of intelligence. But if you want me to tell you the rule is wrong and that it was put in place for wrong reasons, well, I've told you that many times and have no problem telling you again.

The rule is wrong.

I mean, I loved watching Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley play in college. But those guys didn't belong in college any more than John Lennon or Scarlett Johansson or Tiger Woods belonged in college. And if nobody has a problem with musicians and actors and golfers skipping-out on an education if they are clearly talented enough to get somebody to pay them millions without it, I can't understand why anybody has a problem with basketball players doing the same thing -- except for that we love our college basketball teams in a way that we don't love our college bands, drama clubs and golf teams.

In other words, when a great basketball player skips college it hurts somebody's favorite college basketball team. That's why people care so much. But that's no reason to try to force people who don't want to be in college into college. And so if Jennings is the first guy who flips the bird to the NBA and shows them he's going to get paid for being great at his age even though the NBA tried to make it difficult for him, well, more power to him, and I wish him luck.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com