Obama: NBA should strengthen G League so NCAA isn't serving as a 'farm system'

The annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT was held over the weekend, and this time around it featured its most high-profile speaker ever. Barack Obama -- noted basketball fan -- stopped by to give a speech, though it was supposed to be completely off-record for some reason. 

Though his speech -- a transcript of which was obtained by CBS Sports -- wasn't entirely about sports, he did make an interesting comment about the NBA and the NCAA. In the wake of the NCAA scandal involving payments to players, Obama suggested that the NBA needs to improve the quality of the G-League so that the NCAA isn't serving as a "farm system."

Q: You're such a fan of the game, and a student of the game, a lot of this conference over the next couple days is not only analytics but even how to improve the game. Let's say you take over Adam Silver's job.

Obama: I think Adam [Silver] is doing a great job.

Q: Let's say you take it over for a day. What's one thing you'd change about the NBA.

Obama: This is on my mind I think because of the morning's headlines. And it's not solely the NBA. The need to create a well-structured D League so that the NCAA is not serving as a farm system for the NBA with a bunch of kids who are unpaid but are under enormous financial pressure. It's just not a sustainable way of doing business. And then when everybody acts shocked that some kid from extraordinarily poor circumstances who's got potentially five, ten, fifteen million dollars waiting for him, is going to be circled by everybody in a context in which people are making billions of dollars. It's not good.

Obama's point is a strong one, and the NBA is already on the path to strengthening the G League. Eight new teams have entered the G League since 2016, bringing the total number of teams in the league to 26. And more are on the way. The Capital City Go-Go, affiliate of the Washington Wizards, will begin play next season. 

Over All-Star weekend, Adam Silver said that he believes every NBA team will soon have an affiliate in the G League, and there have also been rumors about the NBA wanting to start a G League team in Mexico City. 

As of right now, the relationship between the NBA and the NCAA is too strong to expect any radical changes, but a strengthened G League, along with changes to the NCAA system should start to alleviate some of the issues that are going on right now. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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