Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

One and done: NBA players are entering the draft before they should

Published on March 18, 2012 by Anthony Carriuolo   ·   No Comments

It is no secret that professional athletes are as money hungry as it gets. The average professional lottery pick is an equivalent to a Goldman Sachs executive armed with a jump shot instead of a Harvard degree. With so many athletes going from the doldrums of the inner-city to a free college ride and later millions, the generations old “get-rich-quick” American scheme is in full force.

What ever happened to the idea of education? No, not mathematics, free electives, and capstone courses. I’m talking the on-the-court education that only experience can bring to the table. The type of mentoring and coaching that a collegiate ball player receives is unlike the “win now or be fired” mentality of the NBA coach. Yes, it is all about winning, but in my life as a collegian and an athlete I may have learned more lessons in life at parties and with dating than in the classroom. The money, of course is brilliantly relished. Put a carrot in front of a horse and watch him go from a donkey to a royal steed.

The difference between a guy like Bobby Knight and Erik Spoelstra is that Knight took in kids in their teenage years and coached them in life on top of basketball. An NBA athlete can get passed out drunk on a weekend and without a DUI or crime is in no heat. NBA players are not taught right from wrong, how to succeed on paper, or how to treat their fellow man. This may seem rudimentary, but the collegiate ranks are as much about maturing as a young man as they are about winning on the floor.

However, as a professional one must hone their skills over time. Entering the field of writing, for instance, without the credentials or education will result in a lack of pay and a fizzling of their career. The high school to NBA rule was repealed shortly after Los Angeles Lakers C Andrew Bynum became the youngest player in NBA history at age 17. Thus, the “one and done” era began. The most heralded athletes in the high school basketball world simply cruised their way through college with a nice helping of tutoring and some minor GPA adjustments and made their way straight to the bank.

However, for all of these astounding athletes in the bracket each season, how many have fared poorly after a one-and-done season? Free agent C Greg Oden jumped ship just in time for his knees to buckle like an old Ford Taurus. Oklahoma City Thunder SG Daequan Cook learnt his skills just long enough to make himself into a three point specialist who plays spared minutes. Top notch high school player and New Orleans Hornets G Xavier Henry is not at all heard from, and former top pick and freak athlete Washington Wizards PG John Wall is being forgotten at a position loaded with All-Star talent. The top recruit a few years back was Memphis Grizzlies G OJ Mayo who was traded on draft day for one of the one-and-done successes in Minnesota Timberwolves PF Kevin Love.

Sometimes an athlete should treat their legs and talent like an IRA, and give it time before pouncing on the cash. There are too many freakish athletes out there who haven’t experienced enough to win at this level. Basketball takes equal parts technical skill and physicality. You can’t train height, you can’t teach speed, but you can raise a kid from a dormitory hall to the Hall of Fame, if only the patience lies within.


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