Thursday, May 13, 2010

I respect Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but disagree about LeBron and college

I respect Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I disagree with him about LeBron James and college...  His article can be found here:

First a little background:
According to Wikipedia: In 2005, the NBA and the players' union agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement, which requires that:
  • The minimum age for entry into the NBA is 19; players must have their nineteenth (or later) birthday in the calendar year of the draft in order to be eligible;
  • Players who completed basketball eligibility at a U.S. high school, regardless of their nationality, must be at least one year removed from high school.
    • However, NBA commissioner David Stern has made it clear that this age limit does not mean players are required to spend a year after high school in college. They can spend it overseas, like Brandon Jennings did before entering the 2009 NBA Draft. 
Now Me:
People say that hindsight is 20/20. It has a lot to do with “cause and effect”. For example, I touch the stove, and I get burned. Therefore I shouldn’t touch the stove ever, right? NO. Who’s to say I had the stove on earlier? Honestly, I travel a lot and right now I have a stack of mail on the burners of my stove. Who cares. The stove isn’t hot.

Get it? Cause and effect isn’t always 100%. I’ve taken enough quantitative analysis and statistics courses that I know that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation. I’m not about to Google basketball stats, but I do know that I disagree with Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s comments that LeBron would’ve benefited if he’d went to college. Further, I certainly disagree with raising the minimum age to 21 for the NBA.

I know that if I had any super-star athletic ability (i.e. I do have a mean cross-court backhand in tennis), my parents would’ve squandered it. My parents never valued athletics as much as they valued academics. If they had reared LeBron instead of Gloria, LeBron would be a doctor and no one aside from his recreation league would’ve known about him. It takes a special parent (e.g. Gloria James, Richard Williams, etc.) to see that his/her child is gifted and can take it to the highest level.

  •  Moses Malone, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Garnett, etc . never went to college and they had/have exceptional careers. Yes, I threw Shawn Kemp in there. I like Shawn Kemp, but admit that he has had his share of struggles. However, let’s face it ~ I doubt college would’ve saved him from his personal issues.
  • For players like Kwame Brown, DeSagana Diop, etc. it’d be easy for me to argue to send them to college or not draft them at all. But come on, it’s only because I’ve seen their body of work and I’m not that impressed with their level of play. They could follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan and study geography, so that they can easily find the next team that they play for on a map. 
College is great, and I’m not going to downplay the value of education or the socialization that occurs in school. However, I’m wise enough to know that college doesn’t equal “smart”.  My first fiance never went to college and plays in the NBA. He is not stupid, and I’d argue he’s very smart. He doesn’t have a diploma on his wall. BFD. He speaks numerous languages and is intelligent. If he had to go to school, I assure you he’d be successful.

If LeBron went to college who knows what would’ve happened? He could’ve gotten injured. He could have ran with the wrong crew and fallen into trouble. He might have gone a year or so and dropped out, and then everyone would criticize that too. He could’ve been successful and won a title. I don’t know what would’ve happened and neither do you.

Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but DIDN’T. LeBron didn’t go to college. That’s the way it is, and speculating now is a complete waste of time, especially when all anyone is trying to do is kill time before

I'll leave you with an exchange between Erne Johnson and Charles Barkley (i.e. who completed 3 years at Auburn University)

EJ: "Did you graduate from Auburn?"
Charles: "No, but I have a couple people working for me who did."

Wait here's one more exchange, between me and an NBA player (i.e. in Cleveland during the pre-LeBron years, when Gund Arena was empty and quieter than your local library) who wanted to go out when I had to study for an exam in graduate school.

Him:  When was the last time 20,000 people showed up to watch you take a test?
Me:  When was the last time 20,000 people showed up to watch you play?

If LeBron could've benefited from college, than maybe I could've benefited from extra tennis lessons and basketball camps...  Hmmm ~ I need to call my mom and dad now...

Game 6 of the Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics series starts tonight at the TD Garden at 8.


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