LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, two of todays premier prep-to-pro players in the NBA.
Recently, NBA Commissioner David Stern and Dallas Mavericks‘ Owner Marc Cuban spoke out for raising the current NBA age minimum (19 years of age and one year removed the date of the players high-school class graduation) that allows perspective players to enter the NBA.
"Is it fair to force someone who wants to take a different path to remain in college or even to attend college in the first place?” asked Thomas.
No, no one ever has to go to college. Most people attend college either because they want to or because they see it as an avenue that will help them attain that dream job.
No one is forced to go to college, but at times those with the desire lack the means.
“Do I, or anyone in the NCAA or NBA power structures,” wrote Thomas, “have the right to take that dream from him because I feel that it would be more advantageous for him to stay in school another year?”
Certainly neither has the right, but both have the inherent ability to do so.
Is it a dream shared by many to play in the NBA? A most definite yes. Is it a right? No.
After all, playing in the NBA is just a job. And one with a career span of about three to five years.
“One of the purposes of going to school is to find a good job,” wrote Thomas. “And if someone can get a good job before finishing school, why should anyone stop them? Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and it turned out OK for him.”
What should NBA do about the age limit (19 years old)?
Thomas is right in that the purpose of finishing school is to get a solid job, but saying that Bill Gates dropping out of Harvard turned out ‘OK’ is saying nothing at all.
For one Bill Gates, there are thousands of entrepreneurs that were never able to get their ideas off the ground.
“If schools are are going to treat basketball like a business,” wrote Thomas, ” they should treat it like a business from top to bottom and college athletes should be paid. Or, as I’ve argued all along, they should be allowed to go to the NBA, where they can be paid.”
The issue of schools, colleges and universities paying student-athletes is a whole separate issue from them being allowed to go straight to the NBA in lieu of the league mandated minimum.
Once again, if we treat this issue from a business perspective, then the NBA has the ball in their corner in regards to setting the qualification necessary to enter the league.
Like any business, the NBA could conceivably require high-school grads to attain a four-year degree before they could declare themselves eligible for the draft. It's unlike though, because staying the full four years isn’t ideal. The NBA could work towards a middle ground that will allow players to develop before joining the Association.
Just because you can drop out of school doesn’t mean that you can go straight to the NBA.
For anyone chasing a dream, success does not come without its hurdles.