Sunday , Mar , 20 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Trash Talk: Volume XIII

Hi, all. It’s nearing the end of March and you’re not trying to hear anything but college basketball. I know this. Hoop-heads the world over are repping their schools, scrutinising their brackets and doing their best to watch as much of the hundreds of hours of coverage on television each day. NCAA ball is the hot topic, and will continue to be the big issue until a grinning gang of young men cut down the net in St. Louis.

<b>NBA Trash Talk</b>: <I>Volume XIII</I>“/><P>Still, that doesn’t mean that the NBA is taking a break. It’s a crucial point in the professional season as well, with teams playing themselves in and out of playoff contention all over the place. It seems as if the coaching carousel (a pox on whoever coined that term) is still spinning, too. For a change, it was the coach himself who made the call this time, as Don Nelson gathered his players together following a morning shootaround to announce his resignation.<BR><BR>There’s also been drama elsewhere, notably over in Seattle, where Stevie Franchise lashed out at a photographer with a little under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game. Rodman, anyone? Here’s a snippet of the league’s official press release: <BR><BR><I>Orlando’s Steve Francis has been suspended indefinitely without pay for kicking a photographer during last night’s game at Seattle, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations. The length of the suspension will be determined following further investigation. Francis will miss tonight’s game against Portland.</I><BR><BR>It’ll be interesting to see how they handle this one. Whatever the case, I’m expecting the punishment to be on the severe side. <BR><BR>Let’s take a look at the mailbag now. In reference to my comments on the age limit the league may impose (find ’em here: <A href=,

Jeremy writes:

I propose that we continue with your train of thought but, take it a step further…

There’s no reason that there cannot be a 3-5 player exception to the rule. All it would take would be a pre-draft camp just for those high school players that think they’re good enough. At the camp, owners, GM’s, and coaches would have a chance to evaluate all of the high-school talent in the same gym and, at the end of the camp they could select the 3 to 5 most NBA ready high-school players and make them eligable. All others will have to forge their way to the NBA through other means (be it college, Europe, or the ABA/CBA/NBDL). It’s the perfect solution to keep the majority of high-school players on track for the NCAA and to allow the cream of the crop to rise.

Thanks for your comments, Jeremy. I like the idea but, being a cynic, I can’t help but see potential issues. The question concerning what qualifies a player as being NBA-ready is a tricky one to answer. It’s hard enough judging that a player even has potential, let alone deciding whether or not they’re already prepared to take on some of the world’s premier athletes. The process would be just too subjective, and I’m certain it would fail as often as not. Furthermore, if you allow coaches, general managers and others involved with specific organisations to decide the fate of said players, they’ll be tempted to vote for the kids they’d like to draft themselves, even if they know full well that they’re years away from being able to contribute in any meaningful way. All it would take is one player being snubbed and tearing it up in college while another is allowed pass through to ride the pine, and the process will be shown up.

A reader calling himself “aFrO j0e” writes: I think you’re totally right about LeBron James. I think he should have been at least exposed to college ball. He would have matured over time and would have been a lot better candidate for the NBA Draft. I think you’ve misconstrued a few of my comments, Joe. I intended LeBron to be an example of a player who really didn’t need any college experience. That said, I’m not denying that I would have liked to see him take his game to a division one school for a year or two. I’m really not sure how much better a candidate you could find for the draft than LeBron, although, of course, a LeBron with four years of college experience would be the exception. However, as Kevin Garnett once noted, for those who really have the skills to pay the bills, four years of NBA experience will be worth far more than the same amount of time in NCAA.

An anonymous reader opines:

There should not be any age limit in the NBA. This is stupid if that becomes a rule.

Thank you for such a trenchant and well-supported argument. I can see why you didn’t leave your name. Joking aside, though, this comment shows the sort of response that the suggestion of this rule can elicit.

We now move on to more immediate matters. Take a look at this list:

1990-91 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
1991-92 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
1992-93 – Charles Barkley, Phoenix
1993-94 – Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1994-95 – David Robinson, San Antonio
1995-96 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
1996-97 – Karl Malone, Utah
1997-98 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
1998-99 – Karl Malone, Utah
1999-00 – Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2000-01 – Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
2001-02 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2002-03 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2003-04 – Kevin Garnett, Minnesota

Seeing the winners of the league’s Most Valuable Player since 1990 in one place should put you all in the right frame of mind to decide whose name should occupy the next spot. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter, and next week I’ll deal with the debate properly. For now I’ll reserve comment for fear of influencing your opinions. However, if my discussions thus far are anything to go by, there’s little that can be said to change anyone’s mind at this time of year. Most fans have decided on their guy and are as likely to alter their pick as David Stern is to have Ron Artest baby-sit for him. Let us know your thoughts by emailing me ([email protected]) or by using the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Anyway, I’ve kept you all long enough. Take in as much of March Madness as you can, but don’t forget that there’s more than enough going on in the professional game to keep you entertained.

Take it easy now,