Have you ever been in an debate with someone who kept making your points for you? Were you debating Jermaine O'Neal?
The NBA is considering raising their age limit from 18 to 20, essentially requiring younger kids go to college for a couple of years. O'Neal, who jumped from high school himself, has been one of the most vocal critics of this idea.
Earlier this month, O'Neal gave us this gem:
"As a black guy, you kind of think that's 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?"
Yes that's right, why encourage young kids to go and get an education, that's down right unconstitutional. Who needs an education? We can just say anything we don't like is unconstitutional.
Seriously, O'Neal makes some legitimate points that I have heard others argue much more clearly and effectively (he lost all credibility when he threw "unconstitutional" in there). I would have more sympathy if there was a minor league system like baseball and hockey. Rarely, if ever, do you see someone come up to the pros in those two sports before the age of 20. (It wouldn't hurt my feelings if they put higher age limits on all sports. I think it would make both the college and professional games better.)
But in the NBA, you have kids who just finished their prom traveling across the country with millions of dollars. Not to mention having all the "friends" and women they could ask for, who are all waiting to try to get their hands on some of that money. The temptation to leave early would not nearly be as great, if you knew you would spend at least a couple years working your way through small towns making thousands, not millions, performing for dozens, not thousands. The immediate appeal is not there.
Too many teenagers across this country, black and white, think that the NBA holds all their hopes of "making it" and "being somebody." It is sad to see young guys languishing on an NBA bench, struggling to adjust and not capitalizing on their abilities, when you know if they would have went to college, they could have developed their game and had at least some education (if not a degree) to fall back on if the NBA doesn't pan out.
Sure there are the LeBron Jameses and the Jeremaine O'Neals but there are also countless players who never make it and dozens of high schoolers who get drafted but end up out of the league in a few years because they become overwhelmed.
Being a huge college basketball fan I am biased, but can we at least agree on one thing, if nothing else - a higher age limit for the NBA is not unconstitutional. I don't care what your high school civics teacher said.