High School and College Dropouts? Kanye must be ecstatic.
I hope you noticed that there was a battle occurring during the 2004 NBA Draft. It was not between NBA teams for picks, instead it was Dick Vitale versus the NBA. The trend high school players jumping to the NBA is steadily increasing every year, and this year was not an exception. The first pick was high school player, Dwight Howard, who is billed as the next Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett, as you may remember, came straight from high school to the NBA. Now, KG is MVP and teams are rushing to find the next high school player who would be MVP. It was sad to see Dick Vitale desperately selling the College game. Personally, I agree with his view. There is no point arguing the philosophical and moral reasons of skipping college for the pros. We can argue till Greg Ostertag comes home. What I can talk to you about is my personal reasons why I would like more players to stay in college.
Image is nothing. Money is everything
With the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program, you would expect them to emphasize education to their players. It’s funny to see players reading to kids and stressing education, while at the same time, the league gets an increasing class of high school players every year. Next thing you know, the kids would be reading to the players. Whatever happened to the “hardship clause”? Didn’t the NBA only grant skipping college if you had a financial problem? Last time I checked, LeBron was not living in the back of that Hummer. I guess the NBA easily chooses scoring on the court over scoring on the SATS, but they should not be blamed. After all, it is a business and the league needs to make money. The problem I have with that is when players get fined for ignorant comments they make. Allow me to explain. Remember KG’s “insensitive” comments regarding bringing his arsenal of bombs and machine guns against the Lakers? He had to apologize for saying what was on his mind. Personally, I have a problem with this. If KG made that statement and you found it ignorant, call him an ignorant person. Big deal. He is a basketball player, not a politician. Secondly, you cannot blame him for making that statement because he came straight out of high school. For the NBA to fine him for speaking like a kid from high school is hypocritical. After all, they are the ones who let him in. Now they are punishing a high school kid for thinking like a high school kid.
There is something about the college game that completes the player’s character. The college game can be likened to the courting phase of a romantic relationship. This is where we fall in love with the player. We love him for dunking on the lanky center, for upsetting Duke and for choking against Duke. This is where the player is defined. The college game is a showcase to the North American audience of the next professional players. Without the college game, we would not be able to make statements such as “This guy can play above the rim” or “This guy’s a bust”. In the high school situation, it’s like meeting someone and getting married all in one shot. There is no courting phase. The audience is lucky to watch one McDonald’s all -American game to see the league’s next superstar. I think we are owed more than that. There is also a sentimental attachment to the college game. Personally, I get a tingle in my spine every time I used to hear “From North Carolina…” or “From Michigan…” Without the college game, there would not have been North Carolina Tar Heel connections, feared Georgetown Hoya centers and Michigan’s Fab Five. We would have been robbed of a world of heroes and legends outside of the NBA.