Feb 22, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Andrew Wiggins (22) speak with media after the game against the Texas Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 85-54. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA vs NBA
“I don’t think you should have to play in college to play in the NBA,” said ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy in an interview with me earlier this year.
LeBron James beat the odds. And Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard and many other NBA stars who jumped from high school straight to the NBA.
But we all know about the other players, like Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, who were complete busts out of prep school; and there are numerous more examples of failed athletes skipping college to start making their NBA money as soon as they could.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes breaks down the rule the NBA put in the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement:
So Stern championed “Article X” of the NBA’s 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement, a provision that required all potential NBA draftees to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduation.
Article X, which has come to be known as the “one-and-done rule,” was meant to protect unprepared high school players from the difficult professional transition while also giving NBA teams a better opportunity to evaluate potential draftees on the college stage. In theory, the NBA figured to be the biggest beneficiary of the rule, as it would enjoy better-prepared prospects and suffer through fewer lottery mistakes.
But NBA coaches disagree.
Mar 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts to a call during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 96-80. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
“I think you should be able to play in college without going to college classes,” the former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets continued. “If education is not your thing, just play for that college; this antiquated notion of a student-athlete…”
But don’t most student-athletes play these sports to pay for their school? Most don’t become professionals.
“They can still do that if they choose, but they don’t have to. You don’t have to go to school; we’re not going to have you be in a Micky Mouse major if you do, we’re not going to perpetuate academic fraud to get you a fake degree. You either declare that you want to go to school and really be a student-athlete, or you can just go play for that school and that coach. I don’t think there should just be one track to play in college sports, especially as big money as they are.”
What about players like Gerald Green of the Phoenix Suns; do you think he would have been a better NBA player had he gone to college and gotten more structure and more of a foundation?
“No system is perfect. I don’t think anybody should tell another one how they can earn a living, or at what time or point. I understand why the NBA wants to control it because it gives their teams a better evaluation tool.”
“I understand, also, why some of these kids who don’t want to go to college or don’t belong in college [still go]. They shouldn’t, to me, be stopped from earning a living.”
Should athletes have to go to one year of college before they can enter the NBA?