Once I totally disagree with.
Fans don't enjoy the game the way they used to, and they're becoming more and
more hostile toward the players. O'Neal has a $100-million contract. In his
mind he's a huge star. He has no clue how much more of a star he would be had he
spent two or three years in college being hyped up by Dick Vitale, Billy Packer,
Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Clark Kellogg. O'Neal spent his college years
sitting on the Portland bench, collecting a fat check. That was good for
Jermaine O'Neal. It was not good for the NBA.
There are two problems with this attitude. First, there are bigger reasons American fans aren’t as in love with the NBA than high school players going right to the NBA. For example, as much as I love the New York Knicks, the thuggish style of play they perfected (the ‘Bad Boy’ era Detroit Piston were the originators) under Pat Riley has made the game Wanda from Living Colour ugly, making breaking the 80 point mark cause for celebration.
More importantly, you have drank Billy Packer’s Kool-Aid if you believe the best place a young man can improve his basketball skills is on campus. If the NBA had a real minor league, instead of the loosely affliated CBAs and NDBLs, Jermaine O’Neal would have been playing 30 minutes for a team in Tacoma. Not only would he be improving his basetball skills, ithe carrot of getting called up to the show would help keep his head from getting to big before he accomplishes anything.
David Stern's job is to do what's good for the league. He can't react when the
league bottoms out. He'd lose his job. Stern must improve the NBA now and get on
top of any image problems that might damage the future financial health of the
The last three image nightmares for the NBA were the brawl in Detroit (started by Ron Artest, who went to St. Johns for three years), Kobe Bryant’s rape charges (no college) and Latrell Sprewell (who attended the University of Alabama for four years) choking his coach. Two of the three protagonists were college guys.
But let’s call a spade a spade when you speak of the NBA image problem, if you will excuse the choice of language. The problem is young black men with f**k you money. Thanks to the success of the NBA during the Magic/Bird/Jordan/Stern era (and yes, Stern is as responsible for the current success of the NBA as any of the players mentioned), players don’t have to be squeaky clean to acquire endorsement money. Their salaries are large enough so that they can be tattooed and smoked up if they choose to. You don’t have to be Grant Hill or Shane Battier to make ridiculous cash. You can be Allen Iverson, and if your skills are exemplary, you will get paid.
Not only are players more fundamentally sound after spending a few years in
college, they are far more marketable after going through the NCAA hype machine.
The reason European players are more fundamentally sound than their American counterparts when they begin their respective NBA careers is because the European players have been professionals since their teens before getting to the NBA. The same opportunity Whitlock wants American players not to have.
So, yes, David Stern and NBA owners have a vested interest in the success of
college basketball. There's nothing wrong with that.
Of course there is something wrong with that. College basketball is much more powerful that it should be due to it’s de facto minor league status. As much as I enjoy(ed) watching college basketball, it shouldn’t be the only place an athlete can apply his skills to better himslef.
It's not uncommon for the prep-turned-pro to sit on the bench for three years
maturing mentally and physically. He can't help. He's stealing the roster spot
and paycheck of a veteran who might be able to help a team win. Given the makeup
of the NBA, that veteran player is more than likely going to be the same color
as Jermaine O'Neal.
I fully agree with that. Said prep-turned-pro should be playing for the team’s affliated minor league program.
is O'Neal right that it's hypocritical for the public to be outraged by
high school basketball players' turning pro when baseball players have done it
Yes, O'Neal is right. The public outcry is hypocritical, and perhaps
driven by a bigoted double-standard.
Perhaps? High schoolers are encouraged to start their professional careers in baseball, tennis, soccer and hockey, just to name a few sports. Jennifer Capriati’s parents should be in prison for child abuse for what they did to their daughter, but America is more ‘worried’ about an 18 year old black boy than a 14 year of white girl.
Making business decisions based on the hypocracy and bigoted double standards of a populace empowers the hypocracy and double standards.