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Clown College

Steve Kerr advocates raising the NBA’s age limit over at Grantland. His argument is that the NBA is better served financially by having players in college longer. And in the end, Steve, isn’t what’s in the best financial interests of  the NBA really what’s best for America?

The dreckiest sentence in this mountain of dreck is this one: “Why should NBA franchises assume the responsibility and financial burden of player development when, once upon a time, colleges happily assumed that role for them?”

Let’s rewrite that question for Steve, but add one single ounce of humanity and perspective: “Why should anyone other than the NBA assume the responsibility and financial burden of player development?” Steve thinks the NBA is entitled to reap the corrupted benefits of the professional basketball player factory that is the NCAA.

And thank goodness for the NCAA. Assuming responsibilty over here and financial burden over there, all out of the goodness of their collective heart. The NCAA and NBA have concocted a virtually risk-free scam in which the NCAA develops talent at no cost, funnels that talent into a monopoly.  The only potential risk is a player getting hurt before he gets pushed through the funnel. That’s a minimal risk because the flow of talent is endless.

Well, minimal risk for the NBA and NCAA anyway. But screw the kid. That’s Kerr’s point and at least he had the guts to state it bluntly – albeit after he piled on about 2000 words of tone-deaf platitudes and other compost:

The arguments against raising the age requirement hinge on civil liberties, points like, “Who are we to deny a 19-year-old kid a chance to make a living when he can vote, drive, and fight in a war?” If this were about legality or fairness, you might have a case. But it’s really about business. The National Basketball Association is a multi-billion-dollar industry that depends on ticket sales, sponsorships, corporate dollars, and media contracts to operate successfully. If the league believes one rule tweak — whatever it is — would improve its product and make it more efficient, then it should be allowed to make that business decision.

With that guiding principle Steve, what other “rule tweaks” might serve the greater good of the NBA, and by definition, America? An endless and frightening list of things comes to mind. No business should be allowed to violate fundamental freedoms of our society to improve their bottom line. That type of thinking is vile.

And why is Grantland publishing this badifesto? I’m not asking an entire collection of writers to speak with one voice, but dropping in a non-writer with partisan ties to an issue to editoriolize is in poor taste. Especially when his case is so glaringly weak and offered without counterpoint.

I also don’t think rich, old, White men should be allowed to arbitrarly decide when impoverished, young, Black adults should be allowed to earn a living in their chosen profession, but Steve Kerr deftly dealt with that issue by not mentioning it.


1 Dimelo   ~  May 9, 2012 8:55 am

Great job, Jon. Steve is so far off-base here, but whatevah...I hate dickheads that want to support a multi-billion dollar industry's seedy practices.

What's next? A report saying that repeated concussions in football don't cause long term damage to the brain. Or maybe that he civil rights act of 1964 didn't need to be signed because the private industry would have "naturally" moved to providing equal rights for all because it would be important to remain competitive. Yeah, the private industry really gives a crap about its citizens.

Look at healthcare insurance companies and how long they took to approve contraceptives for women, and how short it took for them to approve male impotence pills for men.

Yeah, these multi-billion dollar conglomerates are looking out for everyone. Is Steve Kerr a DICK? (Marv Albert voice) YES!!!

2 RagingTartabull   ~  May 9, 2012 9:11 am

I really hope more kids take the Brandon Jennings route: tell the corrupt NCAA to eff off, sell their services to the highest European bidder for a year of seasoning, and THEN declare for the draft. Why exactly are these kids obligated to put in one year of indentured servitude to the John Calipari's of the world when there are teams out there perfectly willing to pay them good money for their talent?

But as Jon deftly notes in his closing paragraph, there is a big ol' racist elephant in the corner of this room.

I now leave you with the mental image of a "racist elephant."

3 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 9, 2012 9:28 am

This terrible piece by Kerr really deserved the Fire Joe Morgan treatment. Nearly every line is offensive and indefensible.

Grantland looks like it's nothing more than a very large platform for David Stern with this shit.

4 ms october   ~  May 9, 2012 9:30 am

simmons loves steve kerr so not surprising he would give him this platform.

[1] the invisible hand at its finest!

[2] yeah - even though european leagues have a tendency to stifle guys a bit, at least you are getting paid and developing certain aspects of your game.
not vouching for calipari, but at least he preps his guys for the nba game and encourages them to leave. granted that is part of his recruiting strategy, but at least there is some benefit to the players, unlike other programs.

lots of different faces popping up for that elephant.

5 jeremydneezy   ~  May 9, 2012 9:41 am

Though many of his points are ridiculous, I agree with him that a great many players actually earn less money over the course of their career by becoming professionals too soon. I think we can all agree that the NBA would be better served by having a true affiliated "minor league" where players can learn the craft. It would not completely kill off NCAA basketball because kids would have a choice between playing in front of 1,000 people as a professional or 24,000 in Rupp Arena.
I personally wish that the same rules applied to college basketball as baseball with regards to draft eligibility.

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 9, 2012 10:16 am

[5] Great points about the NBA needing a real minor league and baseball's decision system being a good model.

But why do you think a great many players earn less? I would think that's tough to prove and would seem to me to be counterintuitive.

7 rbj   ~  May 9, 2012 11:24 am

What everyone has said already.

One quibble: "The NCAA and NBA have concocted a virtually risk-free scam in which the NCAA develops talent at no cost" That "at no cost" should read "at a profit to the NCAA and schools"

I've got no problem with making a profit, but the ones doing the sweating deserve their cut of the pie. And if a kid is one & done, or two & done, don't jabber on about "free tuition" and "value of an education." Those guys are there to be basketball players, not chemists or art critics.

8 joejoejoe   ~  May 9, 2012 11:41 am

I like Steve Kerr but he's way off base here. He seems like a decent guy who is just blind to being in the middle of a corrupt process.

Look at Lionel Messi and Barcelona. They signed him when he was 13 years old and agreed to pay for all of his health care. They run an entire school La Masia filled with nothing but prospects and it isn't a college, it's more like a junior high school based on the age of the kids. For every Xavi and Iniesta they produce they eat the costs of training a dozen kids who does not pan out. It's still a good business model and you don't hear them or the prospects they choose complaining.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 9, 2012 11:55 am

[7] I meant "at no cost to the NBA" but it wasn't clear.

10 Shaun P.   ~  May 9, 2012 1:12 pm

[7] [9] Anyone who's read Joe Nocera's articles on the NCAA at the Times (last one here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/opinion/nocera-orwell-and-march-madness.html?ref=joenocera), knows that the last thing the NCAA is interested in is the kids playing college sports. Based on that alone, I would never advocate forcing anyone to play NCAA basketball for any amount of time before turning pro.

I might feel differently if the NCAA actually cared about "student athletes".

Indeed, in Kerr's line, "The National Basketball Association is a multi-billion-dollar industry that depends on ticket sales, sponsorships, corporate dollars, and media contracts to operate successfully.", he could have easily crossed out "National Basketball Association" and instead written "National Collegiate Athletic Association" and still been 100% right.

However, I note that Steve Kerr called some of the NCAA Tournament games on TV, and I'm sure he'd like to do so again (and cash that paycheck again), which explains why he was so friendly to the joke that is the NCAA college basketball system in his article, too.

Would it make the quality of play in the the NBA better if kids had to have 2 years of apprenticeship first? Whatever education they get aside, let's call a possible pro basketball player's time in college what it is. I think it would. But if that's what the NBA wants, I agree with [5] the NBA should start its own minor league system and not allow players to advance to the top until they've done their 2 years of time. Oh, and pay them salaries for the work they do and the revenue they generate.

11 rbj   ~  May 9, 2012 1:48 pm

[9] Actually, I did think of that, I'm just more incensed over the dollars the NCAA makes that the people whom everyone pays to see, don't get any dollars.

At least in football, with the three year requirement, there's a potential for some education (plus time to get physically bigger, a 19 y.o. wide receiver would get hurt in the NFL) but even there, with the statistic that 77% of NFL players being bankrupt 3 years after they retire, and it's clear college did nothing to prepare them for the real world.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 9, 2012 1:56 pm

[10] [11] It seems like Kerr, and those who advocate for the age limit AND college attendance simultaneously, have a lot of misconceptions about what actually goes on at a lot of these colleges. Unless Hogwarts expands its scope, there's no magical place that turns basketball prodigies into accountants in a few semesters.

13 NoamSane   ~  May 9, 2012 3:55 pm

"If this were about legality or fairness, you might have a case. But it’s really about business."

Studies have shown that people actually tend to completely shift their moral compass when they are in a business frame of mind.

Nonetheless, it's still astounding to see someone brazenly make a statement like the above. Thanks, Jon, for posting about this. And to everyone else for the perceptive comments.

14 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  May 10, 2012 6:22 am

[0-13] Agreed and Agreed. I despise college sports, it's pure exploitation. Total trash from Steve Kerr.

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