Right now, you have to be 19 to be drafted into the NBA (your high school graduating class has to be one year removed plus you need to be 19 by the end of the year). David Stern has suggested that he’d like to see that number at 20.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he’d like it to be 21. Associated Press has the quote:
“They get precocious kids from high school who think they’re rock stars — ‘Where’s my $30 million?’ ” said Abdul-Jabbar, who was in Omaha to speak at the B’nai B’rith sports banquet. “The attitudes have changed, and the game has suffered because of that, and it has certainly hurt the college game.”
Let’s remember the system Abdul-Jabbar came out of: When he got to UCLA, NCAA rules did not allow him to play as a freshman. (Which led to legendary games between UCLA’s freshman and varsity teams.) He played until he was a senior, and then went to the NBA (where he won six titles, six MVPs and became the sports all time leading scorer).
The question has always been — why should LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnet be forced to spend a year in college if they have the game to be in the NBA? Isn’t it the American way that if you can do the job you deserve a chance?
But the NBA’s decision was about money and marketing. Always is. First, a year in college allows the general public to learn about these players and create some marketing buzz. Hard core hoops junkies knew who John Wall was before he went to Kentucky this year, but most people didn’t. Now he comes in a name product people have seen play.
Second, the age limit protects the owners from themselves. The problem was never the LeBrons or Kobes, it was the guys with potential that teams drafted out of high school that never panned out. Teams felt pressure to take potential stars for fear of missing out on the next big thing, but if they didn’t pan out that was a lot of money thrown away. David Stern works or the owners, don’t forget that.
Abdul-Jabbar thinks the system was pretty good when he came up, and we should go back to something closer to that. Even if that flies in the face of basic American principles.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.