Here we go again.
With the end of the college basketball season the initial trickle for underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft is about to become a flash flood.
Blake Griffin just declared yesterday, Jodie Meeks will put his toe in the water and everyone is waiting to see what Ty Lawson, Hasheem Thabeet and many others are going to do.
With the constant and massive outflux (Is that a word? Screw it! It is now) of talent flowing from college basketball to the NBA, European basketball and even the NBA’s new Development League the entire competitive balance of men’s basketball is suffering.
No team can keep talented players together long enough to create a solid, entertaining and competitive bunch of teams. As Hammen noted in the comments yesterday, had Kansas kept all it’s underclassmen together they would have been absolutely loaded. How fun would a UNC – Kansas rematch have been in the Final Four? Or, even better, in the Finals? Ratings would have been through the roof.
In the prime years of UCLA and even as late as those killer Kentucky and Duke teams most of the players stayed at least three years. Sure, there were always the Jordans and Magics that left early, but those were the elites. Players everyone knew were going to be fantastic no matter when they entered the draft.
But a majority of players ranging used to stay all four years. Kareem (Alcindor at the time), Walton, Hakeem, Sampson, Duncan, Stockton, even Grant Hill all stayed for their entire college careers.
After the ‘straight from high school’ mini era, we now have players like Durant and Carmelo playing for one year then leaving. Not that anyone could blame them. Obviously they need to do what’s best for them and their families. If you have the talent, then go for it.
The problem is now we have marginal players who enter the draft not because of anything they’ve accomplished, but because of the P word: Potential. Players who most likely will become fringe bench players on shitty teams because they just weren’t ready to take the next step.
For the record, Blake Griffin is not one of them. After single handedly keeping his team in the UNC game, it’s evident he’s ready.
I’m talking about the players like Ed Davis who played a whopping 14 minutes in Monday night’s game. But, according to scouts, ‘he was the best draft prospect on the floor in the Final Four. Long, athletic and very active around the basket on both ends of the floor, he's a game-changer’.
Fucking dude played 14 minutes and the scouts have somehow pegged him as the best prospect on that team?
David Stern wants to up the age limit from 19 to 20 years old. The problem with the age limit is there is still Europe. Many players will try college for a year and if they don’t keep grades up or want to score some money, will head overseas and play there for 2 years. They get to hone their skills during an easy regular season while making millions.
I have another idea. I don’t simply bitch and complain about things; it’s just what I’m best at.
Let’s start paying the players.
Not millions or hundreds of thousands, but how about enough money for them to live on? Considering they’re in college, let’s figure $20,000 - $25,000 a year. That seems right. College students don’t need a ton of money, but they do need something to survive on.
It seems to me that a lot of these players – especially the borderline ones – are going pro because they are trying to secure some financial security for their families. Or themselves. Or just don’t like going to class.
By paying them, maybe they’ll be more inclined to stay in school. Even for one more year.
And, please, don’t tell me paying them will violate the sanctity of the student athlete. My brother in law worked security at the TD BankNorth Garden during the Sweet 16 and witnessed first hand boosters from EVERY school shaking hands with their school’s players in order to slip them some money. Most athletes do get paid, it’s just through illegal channels. Instead of an official school check they have to act like drug dealers in a back alley.
Meanwhile, Rick Pitino is hocking 'Guitar Hero - Metallica', John Calipari can freely rip up his Memphis contract because Kentucky makes him a Godfather offer and scumbag coaches like Kelvin Sampson can break every recruiting rule in the book, leave a team in ruins and on probation while heading out for another job.
That’s fair how, exactly?
Besides, paying players will prevent the one thing that nobody ever wants to see again: Gambling fixes. You pay the players there will be less chance they’ll be looking for alternative means of making money. And, yes, point shaving could be one of those means.
I know there will be some details to work out (I’m thinking of giving teams that make the Sweet 16 and extra $500, Elite 8 another $1000, Final 4 $2000, etc) but between classes, practice, games and travel time, there is barely time for these guys to sleep. Nevermind work a part time job to make ends meet. Just pay them for their hard work on and off the court.
It’s not like they don’t help bring in millions of dollars to your school.
It’s not like you can’t afford it.
Today’s distraction: A do it yourself consumer warning. Just look out for those tattooed women. They’re bad news.