NBA' s Case for Age Limit - Exhibit A: Jermaine O'Neal

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NBA Commissioner David Stern is once again pushing for an NBA age limit, proposing that players must be 20 year old or two years removed from high school. Here's what one former high school to NBA baller, Jermaine O'Neal thinks of the idea:
"'As a black guy, you kind of think [race is] the reason why it's coming up.

You don't hear about it in baseball or hockey. To say you have to be 20, 21 to get in the league, it's unconstitutional. If I can go to the U.S. Army and fight the war at 18 why can't you play basketball for 48 minutes?' O'Neal said."
So really, in trying to dispute the Commissioner's idea, O'Neal is actually making a strong case for it.

Unconstitutional? Sounds like someone could have used a few more history courses.

And I always love the "If I'm old enough to die for my country ..." line. Haven't heard it much since high school when Wisconsin raised their drinking age from 18 to 21.

Really this arguement works for me, too. I mean, I'm old enough to die for my country. So let's see ... If I'm old enough to die for my country then I shouldn't have to stop for that red light if I don't want to. If I'm old enough to die for my country I should be able to throw eggs at my neighbor's windows if I want to. No ... I have the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to throw eggs at my neighbor's windows if I want to. Yes this works well. If I'm old enough to die for my country then I can do pretty much whatever I please.

OK, let's set aside that Jermaine O'Neal is an idiot.

I'll give you Lebron James and Kevin Garnett as the two individuals who, as far as we can tell, successfully made the jump from high school to the NBA, both as players and as human beings. I'm willing to overlook the circus that was James' high school senior year.

Kobe Bryant? A smash as a baller, but is anyone still willing to argue that this punk couldn't have used a couple years in college, under a strong mentor like Coach K. TMac? same.

For the handful of names that have at least quickly become successful as players, there are a multitude of others who haven't. And even more who didn't even get close enough to the trough to get a drink.

This isn't as big a problem in baseball as it is in the NBA because an initial signing in MLB is not the lottery win that an NBA contract is. Those guys aren't going straight to the bigs. They'll be riding in buses and carrying their own luggage for a while. As for the NHL ... what's that?

If you want to know why young men ought to spend a year or two in college before going to the NBA, I give you ... Jermain O'Neal, head case extraordinaire.


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