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The Unaccompanied Minors of the NBA Reviewed by Momizat on . Just five short years ago, through collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NBA and the Player's Association, a decree was issued that banned al Just five short years ago, through collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NBA and the Player's Association, a decree was issued that banned al Rating:
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The Unaccompanied Minors of the NBA

Just five short years ago, through collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NBA and the Player’s Association, a decree was issued that banned all high school players from making an early jump straight into the league. The new rule deemed that any player entering the draft must be at least 19 years of age by the end of the calendar year in which the draft is held and players that attended a U.S. high school are further required to be at least one year removed from his respective high school class’ graduation.

Simply put, you must play one year of college ball at minimum, or as we’ve seen with players like Brandon Jennings, a year of pro ball overseas.

Since the inception of the rule, there has been more controversy than outright acceptance, especially from prominent figures in college basketball such as Hall of Famer, coach Bob Knight. Knight believes that the one-and-done players are diminishing what the college game represents and additionally hurting many top-flight programs throughout the country by putting a mountain of pressure on the coaches to essentially get it right, and win a national championship within a tight one year window.

As recently as last week, we even received input from UCLA and Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Kareem stated that the NBA should raise the age limit to 21, a considerable spike from 19. It is his personal belief that by the time a player’s junior collegiate season is completed, he will have attained a sufficient amount of knowledge about the game and of himself, thereby making him that much more prepared for the life of a professional athlete. Jabbar even addressed LeBron James’ enigmatic postseason exit by saying, “He would have come into the professional ranks very polished, given his innate gifts.”

If you’ve already formed an opinion, let’s see what side of this debate you end up supporting by the time we complete our due diligence in exploring this issue.

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  • Carrie

    Very interesting article and I think you make some good points, especially in regards to the age limit being disruptive for the college game. I think one very important point you neglected to mention is how an age limit plays into revenue for colleges and networks. By instituting such a rule and without having a viable alternative to the NCAA, the NCAA, the networks and the colleges hope to profit off the marketability of these kids while at the same time trying to spin PR about a “pure” (i.e. supposedly uncorrupted by money) form of the game, which strikes me as ridiculous and hypocritical. This is especially true when kids decide to forgo college to play professionally overseas; IIRC, some media outlets absolutely blasted Jennings for that decision. I think that the age limit isn’t bad in and of itself, but what’s causing the problem is the lack of alternatives to college. For example, have the NBA limit be 21 or whatever, but then allow these kids to make their own decision: go play college and commit to 3 or 4 years, or play professionally either overseas or perhaps in the D-League. The money and exposure won’t be as high, but it will better prepare these players for what professional ball is all about, because they’ll be competing for roster spots with guys who’ve already been there. Either there needs to be a system of development akin to baseball for these players, or they need to do away with the age limit because, as you pointed out so clearly, the system is not working the way it should as it stands.

  • Carrie

    Very interesting article and I think you make some good points, especially in regards to the age limit being disruptive for the college game. I think one very important point you neglected to mention is how an age limit plays into revenue for colleges and networks. By instituting such a rule and without having a viable alternative to the NCAA, the NCAA, the networks and the colleges hope to profit off the marketability of these kids while at the same time trying to spin PR about a “pure” (i.e. supposedly uncorrupted by money) form of the game, which strikes me as ridiculous and hypocritical. This is especially true when kids decide to forgo college to play professionally overseas; IIRC, some media outlets absolutely blasted Jennings for that decision. I think that the age limit isn’t bad in and of itself, but what’s causing the problem is the lack of alternatives to college. For example, have the NBA limit be 21 or whatever, but then allow these kids to make their own decision: go play college and commit to 3 or 4 years, or play professionally either overseas or perhaps in the D-League. The money and exposure won’t be as high, but it will better prepare these players for what professional ball is all about, because they’ll be competing for roster spots with guys who’ve already been there. Either there needs to be a system of development akin to baseball for these players, or they need to do away with the age limit because, as you pointed out so clearly, the system is not working the way it should as it stands.

  • http://lakersnation.com Stan

    Carrie, you brought up a very poignant issue with regards to the revenue building that the NCAA has been really pushing forward with in the last few years. You are absolutely right in that their claim that the college game is more “pure” is pretty ridiculous in itself. This is even more so with the NCAA expanding the field of March Madness to 68 teams and even the mere fact that they considered a ludicrous 96 teams says a lot about their true intentions. It’s unfortunate that even down to the high school level, student athletics in general is becoming tainted by the pursuit of profit and the only ones who are suffering are these young athletes. I like your suggestion of giving the kids a true option even if the age limit was raised to 21 in the NBA as well. I also just think that by placing a restriction on these kids’ careers, they are also being unfairly placed in a situation where if, God forbid, they suffer a devastating injury while playing college or overseas when in fact, they’re more than ready to play in the NBA, they may never even get to reach that dream. The system before, while not perfect, was not causing as much detriment to college basketball. Without any age limit rule, the onus falls squarely on the individual players that decide to take the risk of betting all their marbles on the thought that they can make it in the pros straight out of high school. Thank you for your feedback!

  • http://lakersnation.com Stan

    Carrie, you brought up a very poignant issue with regards to the revenue building that the NCAA has been really pushing forward with in the last few years. You are absolutely right in that their claim that the college game is more “pure” is pretty ridiculous in itself. This is even more so with the NCAA expanding the field of March Madness to 68 teams and even the mere fact that they considered a ludicrous 96 teams says a lot about their true intentions. It’s unfortunate that even down to the high school level, student athletics in general is becoming tainted by the pursuit of profit and the only ones who are suffering are these young athletes. I like your suggestion of giving the kids a true option even if the age limit was raised to 21 in the NBA as well. I also just think that by placing a restriction on these kids’ careers, they are also being unfairly placed in a situation where if, God forbid, they suffer a devastating injury while playing college or overseas when in fact, they’re more than ready to play in the NBA, they may never even get to reach that dream. The system before, while not perfect, was not causing as much detriment to college basketball. Without any age limit rule, the onus falls squarely on the individual players that decide to take the risk of betting all their marbles on the thought that they can make it in the pros straight out of high school. Thank you for your feedback!

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  • Carrie

    You’re absolutely right that placing any sort of restriction at all is unfair to these kids, but I can appreciate what, in theory, the point is: namely, that these players have to have an opportunity to have, essentially, a back up plan. Granted, your huge stars will always (probably) have a revenue stream, but encouraging players to spend some time in college gives them options outside of the game. I think I read an article some time ago which surveyed former basketball players and came to the conclusion that the majority of them (around 60%) go broke after they retire since they never learned how to plan and save their money. Probably even more ridiculous than an age limit (as I touched on before) is the fact that networks, colleges, and the NCAA itself have no problem exploiting these very marketable one-and-dones; if we’re going to be truly realistic, the claim to the moral high ground that the colleges and the NCAA have–that their product is “purer” than the NBA game–is completely bogus and, as a result, maybe these players should be able to make money while in college. The fact is that even students on non-athletic scholarships can still earn money working while going to school, so it seems a bit ridiculous to claim that athletes with a marketable product should somehow be barred from a similar (though not the same) opportunity. Plus, that might be one possible answer to the problem you outlined: if these kids could make some money while honing their skills, there might be an impetus to stay in school longer than one year which would make the age restriction useless. I do agree, though, that these stars that have the talent should be allowed to jump right in if they want to. Anyway, I’m glad you didn’t mind me jumping in with my thoughts; it was definitely fun to weigh in. :)

  • Carrie

    You’re absolutely right that placing any sort of restriction at all is unfair to these kids, but I can appreciate what, in theory, the point is: namely, that these players have to have an opportunity to have, essentially, a back up plan. Granted, your huge stars will always (probably) have a revenue stream, but encouraging players to spend some time in college gives them options outside of the game. I think I read an article some time ago which surveyed former basketball players and came to the conclusion that the majority of them (around 60%) go broke after they retire since they never learned how to plan and save their money. Probably even more ridiculous than an age limit (as I touched on before) is the fact that networks, colleges, and the NCAA itself have no problem exploiting these very marketable one-and-dones; if we’re going to be truly realistic, the claim to the moral high ground that the colleges and the NCAA have–that their product is “purer” than the NBA game–is completely bogus and, as a result, maybe these players should be able to make money while in college. The fact is that even students on non-athletic scholarships can still earn money working while going to school, so it seems a bit ridiculous to claim that athletes with a marketable product should somehow be barred from a similar (though not the same) opportunity. Plus, that might be one possible answer to the problem you outlined: if these kids could make some money while honing their skills, there might be an impetus to stay in school longer than one year which would make the age restriction useless. I do agree, though, that these stars that have the talent should be allowed to jump right in if they want to. Anyway, I’m glad you didn’t mind me jumping in with my thoughts; it was definitely fun to weigh in. :)

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