Friday, June 12, 2009

How Is The NBA Age Limit to Blame Here?

I read an opinion piece today written by Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood about this whole OJ Mayo / USC situation that has led to SC coach Tim Floyd resigning.

For those without prior knowledge, it goes like this: Mayo was a high school superstar who went to USC because of the NBA age limit stipulation. Reports indicate that Floyd, or someone connected with the program, paid Mayo to become a Trojan, which is a serious no-no.

As far as I remember, OJ Mayo and his people looking to put dollars in their pockets for him to play anywhere isn't the NBA's doing. People will argue that he could have been making bank in The Association if not for the Age Limit, but he's there now and making his money, so was one year really too long to wait?

I can't fathom how people who are opposed to the NBA age limit view the situation, like going to college is such a horrible thing. You can't equate Memphis disregarding invalid SAT scores for guys like Derrick Rose and Robert Dozier as the NBA's responsibility. David Stern didn't tell Calipari to accept them into his program...

Do I understand that some of these kids - and they are kids - have the talent to move to the NBA right away? Absolutely, but the truth is that for every LeBron James that comes along, there are five Korleone Youngs, a prep star who played as many NBA minutes as I have after coming straight to the pros out of high school.

You can't even point at Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady as examples of prep-to-pros success either, because while they are stars now, they each struggled early in their career, both to earn minutes and handle the NBA game. You can't tell me that both wouldn't have been better served spending a year or two in college honing their skills than riding the pine in Los Angeles and Toronto respectively. And if you want to try, call Jermaine O'Neal and ask him how the splinters in Portland felt.

To me, this whole situation and the opposition to the NBA Age Limit speaks more about the condition of our society than anything else. Opponents want to lament Brandon Jennings "being forced" to go play in Italy instead of being able to go straight to the NBA, except that Jennings could have played at Arizona had he passed his SATs one of the three times he took them.

The whole thing breaks down to people's sense of entitlement; that these kids - and they are kids - are entitled to make millions whenever they feel their ready. If you're that good, the NBA will be their 365 days later. Could an injury happen during that one year? Sure, but so far, we haven't seen it. For every kid who gets hurt and misses his chance at millions, I'll show you five who became better players by spending that one year in college.

Furthermore, everyone thinks they're NBA-ready. Every year, you hear about three or four kids from high school who have NBA bodies and could make the leap to the pros if not for the Age Limit. But come the following season, how many of them actually become instant stars? How many of them really are NBA-ready? Not very many.

They don't have the strength to battle grown men for rebounds or the endurance to make it through the grind of an NBA season. And don't get me started on defense. Most of these kids were offensive stars in high school, dominating far weaker competition and paying little mind on the defensive end of the court. The NBA is so drastically different from that life, but no one wants to acknowledge that.

What made the piece even more frustrating to me is that Haywood himself benefited greatly from his time at North Carolina, where he played for four years after being name Mr. Basketball in the basketball-rich state of North Carolina during his senior year of high school.

To me it makes no sense. The NBA didn't make OJ Mayo ask for a reported $1,000,000 to play at USC and waiting one or two years to chase your dream isn't that great a request. If you want the dream that bad, you'll do what you have to do, even if it means going to college.

And really, college ain't that bad. Ask Asher Roth - that dude loves college!

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