2005-06-23

NBA Labor Agreement: Pity the Profs


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Hats off to the NBA. The lessons of the NHL were not lost on them. One of the mainstays of this agreement: players must be 19 and their graduating class one year removed from high school before they can enter the draft.

So far, many of the comments I've heard sound something like, "Oh man! How's a coach supposed to maintain any kind of team concept with the flood of one-year studs about to be released?"

Please. Continuity went out the window years ago. It's a given that you're going to get one good year out of a pro-level player and then he's off to the NBA. The good coaches and championship-caliber programs have long since learned to manage the tradeoff between cohesion and short-term, high-octane talent. No one is forcing them to recruit and sign these guys.

Some may point to the current queue of underclassmen who had been anticipating a big payday at graduation. Granted, most of these guys, if they play their cards right during the one-year wait, won't lose anything. Some have already burnt their academic bridges, however, and won't use that year wisely. Those are exactly the players this rule is designed to root out. They wouldn't have been good NBA bets. Now the owners get to find that out before they start handing out 7-figure checks.

No, the real victims here are the college professors and non-athlete students. Once again, it's not like the situation was all that great to begin with. But right now the college ballers awaiting their NBA career had to exercise some degree of choice in going to school.

Picture the poor English 101 prof trying to manage a "student" who is just there to kill a year. Grades, homework, attendance ... mean nothing. How motivated is anyone going to be if they know for a fact that they're going to win the lottery next Thursday?

The NBA needs to beef up its developmental league. Nudging these guys into college for a year doesn't help anyone, and makes a joke of the college that will take them and call them students.

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