Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Wrong Guy to Speak Out

Why would Jermaine O’Neal come out with his ridiculous comments about the NBA age limit? Why would he be the guy to say what several other NBA studs are probably thinking? Maybe he should've let Kevin Garnett speak for him or just let it slide. I agree with much of what he says, but he’s always just a little off with his delivery. In fact, almost everything he has done since he entered the NBA (too early) as a high school kid has been not that great.

In case you missed it, Jermaine said this to several reporters when discussing the NBA’s idea of putting an age limit of 20 years old in the collective bargaining agreement that expires at the end of this season. "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?"

Again, I tend to agree with what he says – but why did he start it with, “As a black guy…”

Does he really think that the reason the NBA is doing this is because they want to hold black kids back from entering the NBA? If that was his thinking, than he’s again proving that he should’ve went to college. David Stern is trying to do a favor to kids like Jermaine who should go to college for two or more years. Stern is trying to give these kids an incentive if they decide to enter college rather than sit on the bench like O’Neal did.

Let’s not forget that Jermaine rode the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers for his first four seasons. Never getting more than 13 and a half minutes of playing time per game and in his third season it dropped all the way to less than 9 minutes a game. The Blazers then shipped him east to the Indiana Pacers where his playing time almost tripled, but he still averaged less than 13 points per game. That would’ve been a great rookie season had he went to college for four years. Hey, that might have been a great second season had he been in college until his junior year. Clearly, he needed the playing time and should’ve gone to college. Being from the southeast, he had a bunch of great schools that he could’ve picked from…let’s just say Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke, South Carolina, Clemson, NC State – I’m sure any of them would’ve taken his game and helped him turn into a great NBA player…just a guess though?

Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire are four of the best examples of the reason that a high school basketball player should have the right to decide if they want to forgo college and turn pro. These guys have been nothing but spectacular in the NBA and are four of the best basketball players in the world. Sure, they all had a few bumps in the road and may have started slow but they were ready and they deserved to be at the highest level.

The NBA Draft in many ways has turned into a draft of potential. NBA execs and team presidents are hoping that they draft an 18-year old kid that will be great some day, but not necessarily in one or two seasons. The list of kids that should’ve went to college first goes much deeper than Jermaine O’Neal. What about kids like James Lang? I’m sure the Hornets wish they could have that pick back, huh? Kendrick Perkins is already out of the league. Eddy Curry and DeSagana Diop should’ve both went to college for at least two years, but instead they both went to the NBA were they have done nothing. Kwame Brown needed two or three years for his game and his maturity, I’ll guarantee that the Wizards would agree.

I’m absolutely positive that we’ll all see several kids over the next decade that will dazzle us like LeBron has, but it should only be a few (if not one) every year because they’re all not ready for it. And for Jermaine O’Neal to suggest that this has something to do with racism, that’s stupid and unfair to the NBA. I have a few words for him – grow up and be happy that you were making millions long before you ever deserved them.


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