Thursday, December 16, 2010
The NBA and their ageism
Starting with the 2006 NBA draft David Stern, commissioner, decided to change eligibility requirements for NBA players. High school players now had to wait until they were a year removed from school to declare for the draft. Stern said that players coming straight from high school were not prepared for the NBA and needed a year of preparation in (hopefully) college. I have many problems with Stern's decision, not just because he is stunting the growth of many superstars, but because he is forcing families that need the money to wait an extra year.
Since the NBA started allowing players to join the draft straight out of high school in 1962, there have been 41 players who have been drafted and played in the NBA. Of those 41 you have fifteen players who I would say have enjoyed considerable success in the NBA; those fifteen players are Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'neal, Tracy McGrady, Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Andrew Bynum, and Monta Ellis. Bryant and James are considered the face of the NBA, having won the last three Most Valuable Player awards. If you throw Garnett's MVP in 2004 then you have four of the last seven MVP trophies won by players who never went to college. There is no way that Howard, James, Bryant, Garnett, or Stoudemire needed the seasoning or experience that players get from college. It would have held them back a year, held them back from the best competition in the world, the best trainers in the world, and the best coaches in the world.
Most players who jump from high school to the pros choose that path because it is their only option. Brandon Jennings was the latest victim of this rule; Jennings planned on going to the University of Arizona, but after he found out that he was ineligible for academic reasons, he had to play overseas. While playing for Lottomatica Roma in Europe, he barely got any playing time, he had to deal with coaches and trainers who hated him because he was American and did not speak their language, and he often got mistreated by his teammates. Europe was his only option because of the new rule, and his growth as a basketball player suffered because of it.
I understand wanting to protect young adults from doing stupid things that could affect their future negatively, but that does not mean that David Stern should have free-reign over every basketball player just because the NBA has a monopoly on the market. Some of the greatest basketball players that ever lived skipped college, but apparently that means nothing to my friend Dave.