Raising The Age Limit Again?

(Yes, I’m wildly speculating that Michael Beasley has played his last college basketball game already. But it’s fairly safe speculation.)

Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer has written a column backing David Stern’s probability of proposing the age minimum in the NBA be raised to 20 when the next collective bargaining agreement comes up — even though the current rule of waiting a year is fairly distateful to many fans of both the college and pro games; myself included. Yes, as Dwyer notes, the basketball at the college level has been better with the one-and-done crew (Kevin Durant and Greg Oden last year; presumably, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, and Kevin Love this year), but it’s done absolutely nothing for the mentality that college basketball players at the elite levels of Division I are nothing close to student-athletes. If anything, it’s turned that into stark relief.

The NBA is private, it can do what it pleases so long as it bargains for it in this case. But Stern’s proposal would be just a reinforcing of the latest mentality to control the product and the people involved in it to an extreme level — please see the dress code, lists of places not to go, stricter rules about calling technicals, etc. The reason there were flame-outs that made the jump from high school had less to do with the player being ready than the front office being enamored with bad product. Stern should not be saving teams from themselves; that’s not his job. But there is something so questionable about essentially forcing aspiring ballers to go to college (Dwyer’s suggestion of playing in Europe is laughable; they may forget you exist if you head over there for a year). It’s not like there aren’t plenty of pro busts who played four years of college and managed to turn it into a pro contract that they never lived up to.

I’m sure I’d like a rule with an age minimum of 20. The quality of the league might be better. But it’s a sign of a league heading further in a direction to appease the naysayers who can only muster enough about the Association to say it’s either full of “thugs” or players who “have no understanding of fundamentals.”

All I’m saying is that someone was dumb enough (that someone being arguably the best player to ever pick up a basketball) to draft Kwame Brown out of high school and sign him to a ridiculous amount of money. Stop protecting hte teams from their own fuck-ups, and let the kids who want no part of Div. I schooling play in the Association.

Photo: AP/Dave Weaver

3 Responses

  1. I’m curious to hear why you think it’s not Stern’s job to keep bad product off the court. Admittedly I know next to nothing about the NBA, but unless it’s vastly dissimilar to the NFL, the Commissioner does indeed have a vested interest in growing the sport’s footprint, and painful-to-watch basketball (much more than “thug life” scandals and other “character” issues) makes people stop caring about the NBA.

    You can argue that Roger Goodell’s approach is too hands-on, and certainly the No Fun League moniker is richly deserved at times, but if a) the NBA is hemorrhaging customers and b) people are citing the poor quality of play as reasons for giving the games a miss and c) people further believe that excluding high-schoolers from the draft will improve play on the court, it seems to me that a top-down approach will produce that result more fairly (and quickly) than relying on the whatever the NBA uses for its version of Al Davis to catch a clue.

    Caveats as follows — first, I’m not sure if a), above, is true; and second, I realize this attitude means I probably agree with Gregg Easterbrook about something. But that’s what happens when I try to talk about sports that aren’t the NFL. :)

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