Posted by: Kingsguru21 | August 26, 2009

The Michael Beasley/not attending college chronicles continue

I wasn’t going to write about this, but right now, it is THE story in the NBA. It is over-shadowing Renaldo Balkman’s DUI, and it is definitely over-shadowing anything else remotely close. There are already myriad stories that I’m sure every person has read. If you haven’t read any, I suggest reading this Miami Herald column about why Beasley checked into John Lucas’ rehab clinic. It essentially suggests that Beasley was going there, and this wasn’t a result of the unfortunate tweet that Beasley put on before heading to Houston. This situation is just so unfortunate that I think several things are important to note in the wake of the aftermath.

First: Read this JA Adande column on the subject.
Second: This Matt Moore column is well done as well. This one too (this deals with Beasley’s father statements).

Now, read Jay Mariotti’s column on this if you can’t throw up while reading. (Hyperventilating in a bag is suggested.)

Quite honestly this was the title I feel should be heading over Mariotti’s column: “Stupid, irresponsible DC area Nigger black kid did weed and should be punished because that damn nigger boy should be grateful he is in the NBA” or something like that.

Okay, that wasn’t quite his point, but it damn near came close. I know Mariotti is worthless, and he addressed Derrick Rose as well (which I will get to in a minute) but I’m sticking to Beasley solely on the first part. As to whether Mariotti’s racist or not, I do not care. His column certainly suggests he’s clueless; whether that means he’s judged Beasley because of the color of his skin I do not know. But, would that be a great surprise?

Beasley has issue’s. Issue’s with drugs that apparently (if you read the Miami Herald column or the excellent Moore column–he has several on this topic) that clearly illustrate Beasley’s immaturity and issue’s. The league apparently scheduled Beasley for a collision course with John Lucas. He needs help, and he’s in the right place for it. My hope is that Lucas can help Beasley and help him with his life. That’s my personal hope. But, the title of Mariotti’s column is brilliant: “Problem Kids like Michael Beasley need more college.” Umm, you’re telling me that college eliminates the use of pot? You’re telling me it makes players mature? Like the NFL? (These are all things Mariotti insinuates or imply’s in the column.) I don’t know even to know where to begin with this. I could point out that Len Bias played 4 years in Maryland, and that exactly helped him how when it came to sniffing cocaine? (I grant that most drafted NBA players were not on Bias’ level. 1986 was a bad draft that way as well. Read this SI retrospective if you haven’t.) Do I have to point out that one of the mature NFL players of the NFL recently went to Federal Prison for Dog Fighting? Several others have been part of stiff punishments for things FAR WORSE than what Beasley has done.

Beasley has shown poor judgment (this is not a post defending Beasley in any way) and where is this in question? By whom? Even his teammates have questioned him. Not to be a naysayer, but when Dwyane Wade (I hear he’s pretty good) questions your judgment it should open your eyes. It hasn’t. Isn’t that a red flag right there?

Yet, Beasley’s irresponsible actions are proof that players need more college? The only question I have now is who in the NCAA paid Mariotti to write that irresponsible senseless column.

The truth is, I put a ton of credence into Adande’s column that I really think is the truth of the matter. The most salient (and truthful) quote of them all was this:

“Obviously, the hardest choices are when there’s someone very talented who has issues,” said the GM, whose team has been a playoff fixture in recent years. “Where we’re picking, you’re always picking a problem … it’s either going to be background or too short or can’t shoot.”

Later on, this quote emerged:

One problem is there’s no standard way to assess someone’s character. Teams consult with psychologists, construct personality profiles and give tests. Yet how often do they hold their breath that their pick doesn’t have some demons tucked away?

“Only every draft,” another general manager said.

I think that’s all the rebuttal I need about Michael Beasley. (Again, read Adande’s column if you haven’t. Moore’s too. Both have hit every point eloquently, and far better than I ever could.)

My favorite part of Mariotti’s column definitely has to be this:

Many will pray. But I’d feel better knowing he’s entering his junior year at Kansas State, in a Manhattan that doesn’t demand him to be an American sensation at 20.

You’re damn right I’ll pray that Beasley wakes up & gets it. That’s a hell of a story if you ask me. You know what I can’t figure out? How playing in Manhattan, KS helps you deal with the pressures and pitfalls of the fast-lane in Miami. If someone can help me with that, I’d appreciate it. Moving on.

******

Onto Derrick Rose. Awhile ago I wrote this. I suggest you read it if you haven’t already. I also wrote this hate filled piece aimed at people just like Mariotti who consistently proves how little he knows about sports and the NBA. (If he was alone, I wouldn’t have written it. He’s not alone. Mariotti was not the reason I wrote that piece either. I wrote it for entirely different reasons. As the title suggests, I was pissed off.)

One of the great irritants for me as a blogger/opinion maker/American/college student is that I get to hear how players like Derrick Rose are bringing down the NBA with their presence. Umm, yeah, right. Beasley had issue’s. He had issue’s in High School. Is this some great or new shock being told here? I don’t think so. Not to the hard core fan. (And, make no mistake, I think Mariotti is definitely writing to the casual fan who knows a lot less than they think.)

Derrick Rose is not what I would call a great thinker. He’s not going to create 100 different ways to utilize peanuts. He’s not going to write “The Invisible Man”, and he won’t deliver “I have a Dream” speech to millions of Americans watching on TV. I don’t think he’ll ever stand up on a dais and hand deliver millions of bail-out money to corporations who don’t need it. Yet, Derrick Rose is the scourge of the earth? Me thinks not.

I’m not sure if I should point out the irony of making Derrick Rose go to college for 2 or 3 season’s when he was such a blue-chip recruit. He wouldn’t be able to attend a major university with a low SAT score. He would have to go to a JC, and he wouldn’t be playing for anybody of note. Exactly how does that benefit the NCAA again? (If you’re thinking it wouldn’t, you’ve passed the test. Congratulations, we’re test-marketing critical thinking skills to the American public. My backers don’t believe it will catch on, but I’m trying to convince them by writing this piece that it is possible that Americans do occasionally think.)

What really kills me is that, as TZ pointed out a few days ago, does Derrick Rose even take down Memphis if he’s allowed to go to the NBA out of High School in 2007 instead of having to wait a year and enter in 2008? Me thinks not. (Rehashing TZ here is not my goal. He hit this one out of the park.)

I think the most amazing thing here is that not only do through the creative writing of the other fanhouse authors for the NBA portion of AOL’s fanhouse outshine Jay Mariotti, but they show the difference between innovation and stagnation with their writing. They aren’t in competition with Mariotti; nor is he with them, but at the same time the difference is wholly staggering. Is it surprising that Matt Moore, the headlining propietor of Hardwood Paroxysm is a better writer and thinker than Mariotti? No.

Earlier today, the excellent head writer of Bullets Forever, Mike Prada, had a terrific piece on why columnists have died at newspapers. If this whole Beasley incident hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have connected the dots. (Truth be told, I just thought of it.) Time & time again, the internet has opened up the world of writing to people like myself, and the aforementioned names. (I’ve neglected mentioning Matt Watson who wrote a terrific piece about NBA officials who also happens to run the fantastic Detroit Pistons fansite, Detroit Bad Boys.) If you think I use the word terrific too much, I’m sorry. Every writer (other than Mariotti) I’ve mentioned I enjoy reading what they have to say (little or long) because it’s usually well collected and brought about.

Yet, I haven’t really seen a very engaged piece from these folks on why the age minimum is a good thing. I’m pretty sure most of them wouldn’t have thought the age minimum was related to Beasley smoking pot. (I’m pretty sure all these people have been to college, and can point out people twice their age still smoke pot. I’m jes sayin…) They also can point out, at the same token, that Rose not passing the SAT has anything to do with basketball.

The NCAA wants a monopoly on basketball players before they go into the NBA. The NBA won’t give it to them because they know better. But, they aren’t making it so it’s possible that players will have an easy route if they go another way. Which is a problem. There should be a better route than the NCAA to the NBA. Getting used for a few years so you can make your millions is not going to make this problem go away.

One solution I propose is this (especially because the Derrick Rose issue is so pointless and arbitrary): Let Kids declare for the draft out of High School. If they don’t get picked, offer them the same rules as players who chose to leave college now: Go to the NBDL and ply your trade until a team wants you (in 2 seasons–this is explained below). If that never happens, you’re shit outta luck kid. Nobody ever told you were guaranteed a spot. It’s pretty hard for hanger-on’s and entourages to look cool hanging out in Sioux City in January wearing 350K in jewelry when all the players combined for the team don’t make that much.

Another proponent of this is when kids declare for college, make them stay for 3 years. Why should the University and it’s coaches spend so much time recruiting a kid if he won’t stay but for a year? What’s in it for them? Also, the kids who go that route are subject to all the rules every student-athlete is. I would propose the NCAA make it very difficult for coaches like Rick Pitino and John Calipari to let kids like Derrick Rose slide where myriad others have to keep their grades up to play. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. Players like Derrick Rose should be in the NBA at 18 if they will have them at that age. (The NBA can say what it wants, but it needs better transparency in dealing with young players.)

I believe the NBDL is the best route for young players who don’t want to play in college, and get paid, and get paid legitimately. Europe works too if you ask me. (A kid out of High School can sign a 3 year deal and a great potential yield of improvement than what the NBDL currently offers. Maybe not, but the basketball level is high if you can get into the games. Which is usually the trick in Europe.) This eliminates kids like Jeremy Tyler dropping out of High School a year early because he’s going to have to wait 2 years to get in the NBA anyway. What’s the point? (Not to mention that kids could finish High School without dropping out to play in Europe because of an arbitrary rule that really affects so few. As basketball players.)

The NBA should make it mandatory for American High School players to have their diploma. That would be another obstacle, but not a major one. It’s not like a High School diploma is worth much more than wiping your ass with it.

If in such occasion a team drafts a player in the 2nd round (say), that player has the right to go to school for 3 years and then join the team they drafted him. It allows teams to take risks on players in the 2nd round with those picks, and not cost them a great deal down the road if it doesn’t work out. If it does, the NBA team enjoys the right to those players.

If a player goes undrafted out of High School, and decides to go to the NBDL, a minimum of 2 years is required before entering the draft again. You can only enter the draft up to 3 times before you’re considered a rookie free agent.

So why this will never happen? The NCAA is a powerful marketing tool, and the owners like it, too. It costs them nothing, and the NCAA makes money to boot. It also helps the marketing as it’s usually helpful to have players who are well known when talking about a team. (One of the best things about globalization of the NBA is that fans are now greatly aware of the teams in the US, and fans in the US are far more aware of the European/Asian Leagues than they were 10 years ago. This has had made me a better fan, NCAA be damned.) There is so much money in marketing the tournament, and future stars, that the NCAA thinks it will always be able to market it that way. The problem is, of course, that the NBA already has teams paying for operations in the NBDL, and what exactly does the NBA lose by having better talent in that minor league? It makes those teams more valuable to own and run.

The hypocrisy here is evident with regards to Derrick Rose, and I don’t think the rumors about him would have swirled the way they did if he had not won Rookie of the Year and been toast of Chicago during the 1st round playoff series versus Boston. I think the NCAA purposely did it to weaken Rose’s public image. Quite frankly, who really cares that Michigan lost their Final 4 banners? We still remember those teams making the Final 4. It’s not like the NCAA can make those teams disappear; all that was really accomplished was making Mitch Albom’s dream of vetting Chris Webber come true.

That is the crux of the issue. Long has the NCAA been the sole holder of amateur athletics, and provider of athletes to the NBA & NFL. This isn’t being challenged in the NFL because there isn’t anywhere else for these football players to go. But, the NCAA doesn’t have that same luxury with the NBA. Where as 20 years ago the NBA was still an American game, it is now a global game. As such, the NBA needs global solutions.

For the NBA part, I don’t think this is really about hype (although I do think the NBA has absolutely no problem with free PR which the NCAA provides in this fashion). It is about money, and specifically, contracts that players can sign beyond their 1st and 2nd contracts in the NBA. From the NBA and the owners end, it will always be money that drives this issue. I don’t care what guys like Mariotti say, but the reality is that if a player joins the NBA at 21, gets a 4 year rookie deal that is currently the norm, and gets a 5 year extension, he is now 30. Unless he is Dwight Howard, LeBron James and the like, he’s not going to get that big money during his 3rd contract. The NBA has now taken that away from players. Obviously, some players will still get contracts, but they feel this eliminates the risk greatly of offering too many players to develop on their dime.

However, what I don’t get is why NBA owners think that players develop in the NCAA more by staying longer. That is a myth, and simply doesn’t hold true. You listen to every rookie, and almost every time to a T the standard rhetoric usually shines through. They usually are in some assorted jumble that meanders like this: “I need to take care of my body better, watch what I eat, and it’s a big adjustment to the amount of games I play.” How does playing 40 games for the NCAA with a lot of rest in between games at every interval (they don’t have back 2 back’s or 4 games in 5 nights in the NCAA or Europe) going to help with the adjustment at the NBA level? Especially when players at the NCAA level aren’t of the NBA’s quality?

Back to Mariotti’s column which brought up a terrific point (which he sadly did not expand upon beyond some more jumbled Stern rhetoric in it’s own right): ”

This is not about the NCAA. This is not an enforcement of some social program,” Stern said. “This is a business decision by the NBA, which is: We like to see our players in competition after high school.”

Exactly. If the NBA is a business, than the NCAA doesn’t matter. You want to see your players in competition after High School, make the NBDL a feeder program for the NBA. In my rule changes (and something I would like to see added in the 2011 CBA) I would make it allowable for teams to play players for as long as they wanted in the NBDL to give them playing time. There wouldn’t be a restriction on how many players they could send to Summer League (you can’t have more than 4 players from last year’s team attend the next years team in Vegas), and there wouldn’t be a 2 year time limit for a player to be sent to the D-League. If what the owners want is more time to make an informed decision, than I say okay. I can live with that. One of the reasons I stopped watching the NCAA games (and I know College Basketball nuts will disagree) is that the quality of play is nowhere near the NBA. The players aren’t as good. Yes, they may love the game more, but that doesn’t mean they are better at playing the actual game itself. No game, no league, no part of life is 100% absolute perfection. Why does the NBA have to be held to that brazen standard? No-one expects that out of the NFL (because there aren’t pointless games in the NFL or any reason at any time), right?

I love the NBA because the best basketball players in the world, I stress WORLD here, play in the NBA. It’s a Global Game. Maybe dumbshits like Jay Mariotti can’t appreciate that, but the world is full of 6 billion people. More people have watched Yi Jianlian and Yao Ming play a pointless basketball game, in January with nothing greatly at stake more than a win or a loss, in Milwaukee than anybody else watches the Super Bowl in ANY given year. (I’ve greatly soured on the NFL over the years, too. Just not a fan like I once was. I’m beginning to supremely sour on the A’s as well. Notice a trend? I suck.) There are plenty of people who don’t even watch the Super Bowl to watch 2 teams beat the shit out of each other driving to each end zone. They just watch the commercials. And, that’s essentially it: Sports have become a physical brand of entertainment.

I’m okay with that. People like Mariotti aren’t. He doesn’t get it, and his fellow idiots don’t either. The NBA is about entertainment, and the way you run a 250 million dollar business is very different than a 3 billion dollar one. Who said that? One David Stern. He would readily admit that. (He knows plenty about basketball, too.) Even with all that, he’s an owners shill. (When you get 10 mil, at the very least, annually, you would shill for them too.) What do you expect for Stern to say here?

I’ll get back to my original point about Derrick Rose in a minute. I promise. And, I do have a point.

Think about the age limit for a moment, and how it affects Yi Jianlian. He lies to say he’s 22 (even though he’s widely suspected to be 23–and this wouldn’t affect his draft status anyway) before the draft. It turns out he’s a fraud in more ways that one. (Actually, he’s not a half bad player. Just not a top 6 pick.) Yao Ming, if he’s not capable to come over before he’s 21 (which is moot–he entered the 2002 draft when he was 22), actually loses out somewhat on his youth. One of the amazing things that tends to get overlooked about Ming, however, is that he’s not just popular in China. He’s also popular in Houston, and in the US, as well. It’s not just the Chinese population that enjoys watching Yao. It’s basketball fans who love watching him play with passion and heart. He gives it everything he has, and every time he’s gotten hurt it’s heart breaking to most people. (I’m not over-stating that.) Yao Ming I think embodies the very best in what it means to be a basketball player. He’s a terrific player, and I think in the city of the Houston alone, and nowhere else, I would bet he ranks right there with Hakeem Olajuwon in terms of “joy to watch” factor. (I’m not saying that Houston loves Yao more than Dream. But, I would bet most would tell if they had to pick one, they’d have to pick Dream simply because he’s been healthier up to this point. If Yao was healthy his whole career, I’m sure they would be in fits over whom to pick.)

Yet, the age limit affects young international players. There isn’t a way to apply the rule to Americans without applying it to International players, too. This has a prolonged effect as well. Let’s say you’re, oh I don’t know, DKV Joventut. You’re spending time and energy developing, oh, say, Ricky Rubio. Instead of getting into a buyout haggle with him at 18, you can have him until he’s 20 and avoid this whole ordeal that they are currently going through. You don’t think European teams would love to have a higher age limit? (If you don’t, you’re fooling yourself.) They would simply sign young players to longer contracts to cover the possibility that if the players leaves for the NBA, they would still get buyout money from the team that drafts said player.

This is the problem with making age limits. There is only one small side to that debate. Yes, what Derrick Rose did was stupid. If he was an Ivy-League kid with George W Bush lineage, I would be concerned. But, Derrick Rose is not from a family of Senator’s and Governor’s and CIA Directors and US Presidents like George W Bush is. How Rose’s foolish act convinces a kid to cheat on the SAT is beyond me, but, if that is the case, my next though would be to wonder how intelligent THAT kid is.

Derrick Rose would have been a top 5 pick in the 2007 draft. As it was, he went first overall in 2008. (He won Rookie of the Year too.) He’s expected to be a dominant, true franchise player who may usher the Chicago Bulls back to some level of greatness that accompanied the Michael Jordan era. How any of that, and I mean ANY of it, has to do with the SAT’s I will never know.

But, I know Derrick Rose would not be a franchise player if he had to player at Southern Illinois Junior College or wherever for 2 years, or transfer to a college for another year after that before declaring for the NBA draft. (Because players who have done that have never gone high in the NBA draft and never had problems in the NBA once there. Oh wait, I guess I shouldn’t mention Steve Francis here.)

However you wish to slice this (and i like to slice it with the most irritating and mouthy pontification as possible), college does not decrease immaturity or popularity. It increases the hypocrisy around young men who breathe and exist in that very essence. Yet, that’s okay because as long as the NCAA and NBA gets their money, that’s all that matters. Right?

Not to this fan. I don’t want to put the status of College Education on Derrick Rose because it’s far bigger than him. It isn’t fair to college students, it isn’t fair to other college athletes who’ve done nothing wrong, it isn’t fair to athletes like Derrick Brown who did play by the rules and doesn’t get recognized for it (or Emeka Okafor since he actually was drafted high, unlike Brown, but also graduated from college in 3 years, like Brown). I don’t like hypocrisy, and I don’t like Jay Mariotti. If Mariotti made the rules, I’d ask what the first door to Hell was. Because at least I know there would be sanity there. Thank god Mariotti doesn’t make the rules.

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  1. […] ago, I ranted against Jay Mariotti and his point that Michael Beasley would have been better prepared for the NBA by playing 3 years (or 4) in the […]


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