Breaking news from the Star Tribune editorial board: college sports are hypocritical and corrupt. And the concept of “one-and-dones” is transparently ridiculous.
But the fingers the Star Tribune points are, in large part, pointed in the wrong direction. The real problem here is the National Basketball Association and its stupid rule that requires players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school to enter the draft. The only purpose of the rule is to protect NBA owners and GMs from themselves. Some of them just can’t tell the difference between Kevin Garnett and Kwame Brown. And that just won’t do. When the rule was changed to prohibit players from coming straight out of high school in 2005, the league tried to couch it as if this was their attempt to do something good for the college game. Fortunately, that pretense has been dropped.
For our business purposes, the longer we can get to look at young men playing against first-rate competition, that’s a good thing, because draft picks are a very valuable thing. – NBA Commissioner David Stern
There’s no real reason that a guy like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis should have been playing in Monday night’s NCAA Championship game. He was ready to play in the NBA this season, but was forced into the kabuki dance of going to college by this pointless rule. And now Stern wants to make things worse: by increasing the age limit to 20, he caps the earnings of players like Davis or Garnett (or Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard or any other of the numerous straight-out-of-high-school success stories) for no real reason at all. Not to mention that it forces colleges to continue this charade of trying to make big-time athletics seem as if academics are truly an important priority.
Fans here in Minnesota have seen the benefits of this rule being properly implemented. Garnett was the franchise’s cornerstone from the day he was drafted, and the team now is building around Ricky Rubio, who has been playing professionally since the age of 14 and no one seems terribly offended by that.
Yes, some kids will make bad decisions. Some may bring up the name of Ndudi Ebi, drafted by the Timberwolves in 2003. Well, Ebi made $2.7 million in his three unproductive years here — more than enough to finance a college education. (Not to mention the fact that Ebi has carved out a comfortable living playing in Europe in the years after his NBA career fizzled.)
We can help to lessen the hypocrisy and corruption in college sports by making sure that pro leagues aren’t passing the buck. Talented kids should be able to make the leap directly from high school to the NBA. Don’t like Kentucky and how they do things? Don’t blame John Calipari — he’s just taking advantage of the mess that David Stern has made for college basketball.