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by user Hoopsaddict.com
Fans of this Blog will know that I have always thought that high school kids should go to college for a couple of years so that they can enjoy “rock star” status around campus, play video games with buddies until 2 a.m. in the morning and allow themselves a couple more years to be kids. I loved my time at university and I always just assumed that other kids would value this experience. Why rush going to the League when the game you love will become corrupted by greed?
My opinion on this matter did a complete 180 yesterday when I read a quote on ESPN.com from D League Vice President Michael Curry. Curry told ESPN that the D League would be lowering their age requirement to 19 because, “while we believe that the college game is the best choice for the majority of players coming out of high school, not every player will have the ability or desire to pursue that route. This new rule will now give players the option of playing minor league professional basketball in the United States.”
Are you kidding me?
The NBA is basically telling high school kids that they are willing to create a farm system for them but they aren’t willing to pay them NBA salaries. Other sports like baseball and hockey allow players to be drafted, sign contracts and then play in their minor leagues. Instead of giving the same financial reimbursement to high school kids the NBA has decided to allow them to play for peanuts while they market the D League as the NBA’s farm system. If you realized that college isn’t for some kids then you should have lowered the entry age for the NBA Draft.
What happens if a kid blows out his knee or suffers some other form of career ending knee injury while playing a year in the D League? I’m all for a developmental league as long as players get paid properly for their time there. This season Gerald Green spent some time in the D League and as far as I can tell it was a valuable experience for the kid. He had the security of playing with a contract so if he did sustain an injury he had the peace of mind that he still had a piece of the NBA pie to live comfortably on. If a player like Greg Oden plays a year in the D League or goes to college for a year and blows out his knee his guaranteed millions are now history.
Along those lines, what gives the NBA the right to allow kids to play in their developmental league but not let them play in the real show? If the kids are going to make money for the NBA they should be given the opportunity to enter their name in the draft. I understand that some kids in the past have ruined their chances at NBA careers because they declared for the NBA Draft straight out of high school, but if you going to welcome these same kids into your D League you may as well allow them to enter your Draft.
Adding to my fury this morning was another press release from NBA Commissioner David Stern claiming that the Sonics could leave Seattle. Stern told the Associated Press that, “I would say that the city is making it pretty clear of what they want us to do, and we’ll accommodate them. What I mean is they’re not interested in having the NBA there. We understand that, we understand that there are competing issues, and the mayor is free to make whatever decisions he needs to make and I support that. But that’s a pretty strong signal and I think that the existing ownership has said they don’t want to own a team that’s not in Seattle, so I know what they’re in the process of doing. So we’ll just see how this play ends.”
This is nothing more than a smoke screen today by Stern to cover up the remarks by Curry yesterday. Last summer Stern claimed that he was doing what’s best for young players by making them attend college or prep school for at least a year, yet knows he gives them a way to make substantially less money by playing in the D League than they could be playing in the NBA. Meanwhile, the NBA comes out golden because they have a stronger product to show on television. By “threatening” that the Sonics could leave Seattle, Stern provides the media with another item to occupy their attention and thus avoid the media firestorm this age issue would have caused. Sonics have known all season long that the current owners want to keep the team in town but they need further money from local government. All Stern did was bring up this topic again so that it would divert the media’s attention away from the hypocritical decision he made by allowing kids to enter the D League right out of high school.
These events do nothing but leave a black eye on the NBA and I’m sad to say that I’m ashamed of the league this weekend.
Sat 04/15/06, 8:24 am EST