We’ve heard the reasons the NBA forbids players to play in the most elite league in the world until they’re 19 years old.
It’s unfair to the kids; they can’t handle it.
It robs them of a college experience.
It’s bad for the NBA brand because once you allow high schoolers to jump to the pros, the result is a sloppier pro game. Let’s face it, an 18-year-old kid hasn’t developed his skills yet. He doesn’t understand the game. He’s in over his head, and that reflects poorly on the association.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will likely up the minimum age requirement to 20.
Question 1: Why?
Question 2: Can you think of another profession — discounting those fields, such as law and medicine, that require degrees — with such a requirement?
- You can’t run for president until you’re 35. And there are probably a handful of others. But not many.
Final question: Can you imagine anyone stopping tech moguls such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (all college dropouts) from earning as much money as they want, based on their value in the marketplace? Gates landed his first job at Honeywell, at the age of 19. Jobs got his first job at Atari. Zuckerberg was offered a job by AOL when he was in high school.
Imagine the Honeywell brass saying, “Sorry Bill, but we don’t hire employees until they’re 20 years old, no matter how brilliant they are. It wouldn’t be fair to you.”
Or: “All apologies, Mr. Jobs, but we don’t think you’re mentally or physically mature enough to fit in at Atari.”
Have you ever heard anyone complain about any of these three making too much money?
Yet, we hear such complaints all the time when it comes to NBA players (owners? Not so much).
Those who complain about hoopsters making too much bank and lamenting 18 year olds signing pro contracts are the same ones who boast about the greatness of America’s free marketplace. If you work hard enough, if you’re talented enough, if you prove your value, if you earn it, you can get rich in this country.
You can do it in baseball. You can do it in hockey. You can do it in tennis. You can do it most anywhere.
So why all the fuss when it comes to the NBA?
We wish it weren’t so, but it’s difficult to imagine that race isn’t playing a significant part in all this regulation of young, mostly black players, not to mention the moaning and groaning about how much money they make at such a young age.
When young, black men make too much money too quickly, it seems to make people uncomfortable, even angry. We’ve all seen it, felt it.
Never mind that the busy bodies’ over-regulation — which some have rightly called un-American — has made the idea of the student-athlete at our universities — and our universities’ claims of academic integrity — a bad prank.
Never mind these young players are the best at what they do.
That they help teams win.
That they fill arenas.
That they make uber-rich owners richer.
Never mind that one could tick off numerous success stories who went straight from high school to the pros in the past 20 years. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Garnett. Tracy McGrady. Tyson Chandler. Shaun Livingston. Al Jefferson. LeBron James.
Are there those who’ve failed?
Yep, just like any profession.
That’s the risk inherent in a free marketplace. Without risk, or, put more plainly, allowing grown men to take risks, the marketplace isn’t free at all. As far as professional basketball goes, that’s where we’re at. Unfree.