Dear Mr. Billy Hunter and David Stern,
I don’t normally do this.
The whole faux letter to a prominent figure or inanimate object thing is completely exhausted, but I feel compelled to express my interest in an unresolved clause in the nearly finalized collective bargaining agreement. A small clause, sure; one that by no means should prolong labor negotiations any further, but needs a fair amount of attention.
I’m talking about pushing the NBA age limit from 19- 20; turning the current “One and Done” rule into the “Two and Through” rule.
Believe me, I know the two of you have far more pressing matters to sweat over this week to ensure the Celtics and Knicks are broadcast into 100 million American homes this Christmas day. Things like discussing tenths of a percentage point that would sway millions of dollars in the direction of players or owners, redefining the mid-level exception, and swiftly re-certifying the NBA Players Association. But I also know you and your stakeholders are cognizant of this rule and are considering increasing the age limit, despite the unlikelihood it would actually pass this week.
Its been overlooked how much an age limit impacts the NBA, and how drastically it changes the landscape (and promotes a level of parity among the power conferences) for the college game. I think it’s not getting nearly enough attention based on the effect it can have.
Sure, I realize that preventing talented individuals from making money off their superior skill-set goes against the capitalism mentality this country has been built on. The best high school baseball players in the country can go straight in to a minor league system if they choose, precocious young minds aren’t required to graduate from college if they’re sitting on the next big thing. Heck, half the LPGA can’t even buy cigarettes.
Perhaps it is incredibly selfish of me to want to keep the best young talent in college for more than one season, but there’s also a real benefit for your image-driven league.
Remember Brandan Wright? After an illustrious high school career, Wright fit the bill as a player allowed to do nothing more than kill time at the University of North Carolina for a few semesters while eagerly awaiting his opportunity to join The League. He was teeming with potential.
As the 8th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Wright earned more than $10 million to sit at the end of the Golden State Warrior bench for the next three seasons. Ostensibly, he hijacked that money from an experienced veteran role player. Not only did many NBA fans have little idea who Brandan Wright was, he disappointed those that had high expectations of him. Maybe he couldn’t make the right decision himself to stay in Chapel Hill for one more season and hone his skills, so you can help make it for him. Let the next Brandan Wright get more comfortable with a competitive level of basketball, introduce him to the general public, and increase his marketing value upon becoming a member of your association.
With Wright in mind, I would like to discuss a current college player: sophomore Perry Jones III from Baylor.
An explosive athlete with great size and agility, Jones looked ripe as a young kid eager to skip college altogether and pray for a dismal NBA franchise to take a chance on a player with heaps of upside. Thankfully, under your current age rule, Jones was required to wait a year, and it appeared to be a very important year for Jones, one of maturation. “I think another year of development can only make things better for me,” he said when officially announcing he would return to Waco for a second season.
Now, Jones is in position to be a first-team All-American as a sophomore and create a real splash with the general public during the NCAA Tournament. He’ll surely turn pro shortly there after with two years of seasoning in a college environment, at which point be delivered to you as a beautifully gift-wrapped commodity for your sport’s marketing gurus and official partners.
Other young players may not be so shrewd, however.
Allowing good players to make bad decisions is not a business I suspect you want to be running. Implement the Two and Through rule. It will help my game and yours.