Let’s be clear: Everybody at T.A.H. Worldwide Media LLC (home of www.TodaysACCHeadlines.com) believes in the value of a college education.
We also believe that college basketball and pro basketball could benefit from a rule similar to that of the NFL, where a player isn’t eligible into his theoretical or actual junior year. The one-and-done rule hasn’t helped anybody.
That said, all of the jolly folks at T.A.H. are also capitalist, and if you are going to offer a young man—no matter if he’s economically disadvantaged or from a family with solid economic underpinning—millions of dollars to go to “work” playing the game he loves, then we would advocate that he simply “take the money.”
Of course, there are those people out there who think their chosen university and its players are community property, and they are somehow entitled to four years of service for the benefit of their entertainment. After all, that’s what sports are—entertainment.
Enter one Chris Cusack, author of “An open letter to Kyrie Irving,” published in the Duke Chronicle two days ago.
Evidently, young Mr. Cusack thinks Irving owes him and his private university of choice extended service in exchange for the platform Irving was given to display his talents while said private university of his choice continued to mint money as a result of Irving and his teammates’ efforts.
A brief excerpt goes like this: “Rest assured, you’ll never regret leaving Duke after just one year, never wonder what might have been if you stuck around to play with the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class, which by the way includes your longtime friend and teammate Austin Rivers.”
(Let's see...make $4.4 million for doing almost nothing if there is a lockout or playing a limited amount of basketball if there is a season [limited as in only two 2010 NBA draft picks are averaging in double figures] or play with the No. 2-ranked recruiting class and risk further injury [to a toe that already put you out 26 games] that will jeopardize any future NBA career...Hmmm...$4.4 million or No. 2 recruiting class...We don’t know, that’s a tough call...*)
(*Item in italics may be sarcasm.)
We won’t drone about this, but we will ask Mr. Cusack a couple questions: Should you marry and procreate, and should the result of the mating be extraordinarily talented in some way or another (say Mark Zuckerberg talented or LeBron James talented), are you going to deny him the chance to make MILLIONS when those big bucks are offered to him prior to the conclusion of his chronological senior year of college?
Will you insist that he not utilize his (James-like) talent to secure his (and your) financial future so he can finish college and earn another “banner” and bragging rights for his/your university of choice when the career path he is on features big upfront money on one hand but a high failure rate, career-ending injuries and short careers on the other?
Will you? Will you be so self-righteous about a game—a form of entertainment—when it’s your child?
No, you probably won’t. Because now you are a kid—a college kid who thinks he knows how the world works. In all actuality, you don't. You'll learn, though, and someday when you become a parent, you may well view all of this differently.
When most students at Duke graduate or decide to leave early, they won’t ask their fellow students or alums or Cameron Crazies where they should live and what they should do for a living. At some point, those smart kids will have earned the right to make those decisions.
Would Irving be a better basketball player if he stayed at Duke another year or two? In all likelihood, yes he would—as would, say, Harrison Barnes if he stayed at UNC. But Irving suffered a major injury, and if he is seemingly unwilling to risk his three-year, guaranteed money of $14 million as the No. 1 pick on a bad toe, we don't blame him.
Duke fans, students, alums and boosters, every day you are following your dreams. Let Kyrie Irving enjoy that same freedom sans your criticism.
(Postscript: Cusack followed it up with an "explanation" noting he was being sarcastic, not hateful. Well played—now go to class!)