There are two sides to every story.
Some college athletes leave college early because they could care less about academics.
Some leave so they can get to the fame and fortune at the earliest possible time.
That is the side most people see when they look at one-and-done players such as Eric Gordon or Derrick Rose.
However, sometimes it's about more than that. It's about desire. It's about passion.
It's about dreams.
We have all had our own dreams at some point in our lives. Think back to when you were younger and your "When I grow up" phase.
Some of us wanted to be firemen. Others, doctors or scientists. I wanted to be a journalist.
And, of course, some wanted to play in the NBA.
Dreams can be some of the most powerful things in the world.
They inspire us. They motivate us. They make us push ourselves.
Sometimes, we can't achieve our dreams. Not everyone gets to be a fireman, a doctor or a scientist. I may never get a chance to write for the Chicago Tribune or Sports Illustrated.
Most people just don't have the skill to make it to the NBA.
But a select few do.
One-and-done players are a special breed. They are athletes who have worked their entire lives toward one goal—competing at the highest level of basketball in the world.
They have trained. They have sweat, bled, and fought through injuries. And, finally, after years of practice, weeks of games, days of free throws, hours of sprints and lines, and every type of conditioning drill known to man, they make it. They achieve their dream.
Their reward for this accomplishment?
A jersey, a sense of fulfillment, and...ridicule?
I can understand people saying a college education is important. I would be a shell of the person I am today without my college experiences. But, then again, I am not in the type of position these young men are in.
What if you had the chance to reach your life goal at the age of 18 or 19? What if you had the chance to provide for your loved ones and obtain the pinnacle of success that you have sought since you were a child?
Granted, some players' intentions are not so pure. But why should we punish the others who have toiled their entire lives because a few collegiate athletes could care less about their studies and are in search of money or fame?
For a picture of an athlete who has that pure desire and drive, take a look at Dominique Ferguson, the 10th ranked recruit in the class of 2010.
Ferguson, a probable one-and-done player, has played basketball his entire life. His father played in college, but, in Ferguson's words, "didn't necessarily make it."
With a single mother raising his two sisters, his goal to play at the next level isn't just about him. It's about family.
And, more importantly, it's about a dream.
He told me he has lost friends and his relationships in the past have suffered because people couldn't understand his desire—why he spends hours in the gym shooting, dribbling, and playing.
I'll admit, if I could have landed a job at a publication coming out of high school, I would have done so in the blink of an eye. Why wait to achieve your dreams? You only have so long to reach them, and life is painfully short.
It's time for people to stop hypocritically criticizing these young men for doing what is in their best interest and taking a step forward to reach a goal they have set for themselves from the minute they stepped on the hardwood.
College is a proving ground. It's a step toward the real world, and some are ready for the real world earlier than others.
With limited time and a world of success their's for the taking, I understand completely why a player at the collegiate level would take that step as soon as possible.
They see it as their time. And, after all the work they put in, it's their right to choose to go early.
Ask yourself this question: If you could have what your heart desired, what every ounce of your being was directed toward, would you not do whatever it takes to claim it?
I would like to think so. I mean, I can dream, can't I?