Should there be an age limit imposed for the NBA?

Daily Sundial

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If David Stern’s new proposal goes through, there will be no more high school players entering the NBA before they spend some time in college, or pull a “Maurice Clarett” and unwillingly sit out until they’re eligible.

Stern, the NBA commissioner, would like to institute a minimum age limit of 20 years for players to enter the NBA draft. With all the high school players declaring for the draft the last couple years, this new rule would deny an age group of players the right to bypass college and take their chances in the NBA.

Where did this come from? Did Stern read too many what-would-college-ball-be-like-if-they’d-went-to-school articles during the NCAA tournament and go nuts? Did he not watch LeBron James play this year?

Maybe he just wants to save himself some headache by keeping insubordinate youngsters in college for a while and hoping they’ll mature like Salim Stoudamire did before entering the league. Perhaps he’s just mad that he finished dead last in his fantasy league this year because of underachieving rookies from high school that were supposed to be real steals.

There’s no logical way of reasoning that holds up in a discussion about an age limit for the NBA. Some of the biggest stars in the league skipped college for a chance to play in the NBA right away. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal and James all seem to be doing just fine without a degree. The last two Rookie-of-the-Year awards have gone to players skipping college for the league.

It’s true that there are more players who fail to live up to expectations after passing up numerous hour-long lectures, midterms and finals for multi-million dollar contracts and stardom. As we all know, it’s impossible to get an education later in life, right? If not, the “value of education” argument just went out the window.

Even if a player gets drafted and sits on the bench for a season or two, he’s still making money and nothing is stopping him from picking up a book now and then. If someone really doesn’t want to go to school, or desperately needs to provide for their family right away, then let them. If an 18-year-old is mature enough to carry around an AK-47 and can be sent to Baghdad to defend this country, he’s mature enough to play in the NBA.

I doubt players who came out of high school and failed to live up to the hype, like Kwame Brown of the Wizards, DeSawn Stevenson of the Magic, and Jonathan Bender of the Pacers to name a few, regret their decisions. True, they missed out on playing college basketball and getting a free education, but they’re rich and can go back to school whenever they want. An NBA contract might only come around once.

Some sport analysts who are for the proposed age requirement say players will mature more and learn more aspects of the game. I say these guys should pay attention to what they’re saying and not get lost in their own cliches. Remember Mateen Cleaves? The player who led Michigan State to the National Championship title in 2000 and is still the Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists. In his fifth year in the league, he’s on his fourth team, and averages less than four points and two assists per game. So much for the learning-more-about-the-game theory.

Some players are just too good not to be able to enter the league after high school. Even if they’re a minority, they should still have the option to decide for themselves.

One can wonder what Stern’s motives are for this new age limit. O’Neal went so far as to say it is race related, which has caused a media storm and turned O’Neal into a bad guy. Stern’s motives may not be race related, but certainly will have racial consequences considering there has only been one white player to ever enter the draft out of high school. The rest have been African American which is why O’Neal’s thoughts are at the very least, legitimate concerns.

Stern shouldn’t impose this age requirement on the league if he’s truly looking out for the good of the NBA and its fans. James and the other superstars that came out of high school have only had a positive effect on the league, and the players who don’t live up to the hype will not do more harm to the NBA than those who spent four years in college and are still riding the pine.