David Stern has taken an overwhelming amount of heat the past few years over the direction of the league, most recently, the decision to blockade the Los Angeles Lakers from garnering Chris Paul this off-season has been his biggest source of criticism. In 2005 the league instituted a controversial dress code, which would not be controversial in any other industry, causing an uproar, as racial notions were stirred.
Most would agree that the former was a gross misuse of unilateral authority, while the latter is now viewed a positive which has given the league an air of professionalism.
The common thread amongst these two situations is Stern’s willingness to act in -what he believes- is the best interests of the NBA. Hate him or love him, that is Stern’s overarching, unilateral style.
Friday, on “the Dan Patrick Show” Stern had more opinions about the health and future viability of the NBA. He said he supported raising the NBA entrance qualifications. The NBA currently mandates that players be a year removed from high school graduation and sets an age requirement of 19. He said that the NBA players union is being divisive on the issue.
“I think it would be a great idea to change it to two-and-done,” Stern said. “Everyone I hear from — NBA players, actually; college coaches; NBA teams — everyone says it’s a pretty good idea, except the [NBPA], whose consent is necessary to change it. So, what I tell people to do is, ‘Don’t call me, call their union.’”
Adding a year to the NBA age would symbiotically improve college basketball as well. The one-and-done rule has risen the profile of college sports exponentially. The superstars at least spend a year in college now and in turn the Universities make more money.
The NCAA tournament is bigger with bigger names-even though the teams have a temporary feel to them. The camaraderie of those great teams who have played together for years is gone.
Without the one-and-done rule Kevin Durant would have immediately went pro. Does he develop into a three-time NBA scoring champion at the end of the bench of a perennial playoff loser? Who knows. Anthony Davis’s magical block parties may never have existed. And Michael Beasley could have missed his chance to be a good player for a while, as he initially intended to go pro.
Two years in college for star players will only raise the profile of the tournament. Top teams will have more good players, and in turn, a more polished product. That is good for the fans.
Lower seeds crashing NCAA brackets would actually be Cinderella squads. Today the gap between the haves and the have-nots are minimized by experience. More experienced talent would produce dominant teams like UNLV or Duke in the 90s.
The NBA gains in terms of stability. The league gets a better handle on its talent pool. While the draft is still an inexact science, another year in college hedges the bet. It allows the player to better grow into his frame. Viewing a player on a higher level of competition for a longer period of time helps the evaluation process.
From a players perspective, it limits options. If you are a player who is ready to enter the league it unfairly hinders your earning potential. It would force LeBron James, who averaged 20 ppg in his initial season, to tote books to classes for two years when everyone knows the writing is on the wall. Besides, college is not for everyone. But it would force college basketball players to become better student-athletes. With the need to regain eligibility for another season, classes would need to be taken for more than a semester. Whether that is a good thing depends on your perspective.
Stern is, for the most part, a proactive commissioner. He said the league -under his tenure- will never rescind the rule forcing players to wait a year out of high school.
“We have the current rule, which is one year form high school … because it’s good for our business,” Stern said. “We didn’t do it to help or hurt the colleges. Any college could decide not to take a player who was likely to leave after a year, but indeed it would probably cost the college president his job.”
Do the means justify the ends?
Adding another year to a waiting period unfairly prejudices the uber talented players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett but it saves franchises from making mistakes on the Sebastian Telfair’s of the world.
Inherently the NBA and Stern should act in its own best interests and not those of the NCAA and college players. That is the nature of business. Forcing prospective players to wait another year for draft eligibility is in the NBA’s best interest, if it can get past the NBPA, they should and would enact it.