As new NBA commissioner Adam Silver gets his feet wet during his first All-Star weekend, there is one topic on his mind that is making waves in sports media. Silver wants to raise the minimum age limit from 19 to 20, in effect ending the one and done trend in college basketball.
Silver said Saturday night he is committed to continued negotiations with the NBA Players Association to establish a minimum age of 20 to play professional basketball.
In his first official press conference as commissioner since taking over for David Stern, Silver said the age requirement made sense both for the college and pro game because colleges could create better teams knowing they had at least another year to develop talent, and the NBA would benefit by having more seasoned rookies, both on and off the court, joining the league.
"Everywhere I go, I know people dislike the so-called 'one-and-done,'" Silver said. "I think it's important to the NBA, it's important to basketball generally that there be strong college basketball. It's important to college basketball that there be strong youth basketball and strong AAU basketball.
"I think we feel we have a responsibility at the NBA as the stewards of the game to ensure that the game is played the right way and those values of the game ... are executed properly. We at the league office are thinking about those things every day. You have my commitment that I am focused on the game, and ultimately, that's what this is about."
"It's my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people for a longer amount of time before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league," Silver said. "I know from a competitive standpoint, that's something as I travel the league I increasingly hear from our coaches, especially, who feel that many of the top players in the league could use more time to develop as leaders as part of college programs.
"Ultimately, this is a team sport — it's not an individual sport. And we've seen it in international competition, for example, where teams of players that have played together for a long time have enormous advantage over teams comprised of superstars or teams that come together over short periods of time."
Although I come from the school of thought that other sports allow 18 or 19 to turn pro after high school or one year of college, the NBA or the NFL aren't sports that should allow young men into the league. I know, if you can send them off to war they can play sports. That's very true, but none of us are owners who are investing millions of dollars to be the face of a franchise.
If there was a true minor league system in place, I could buy into the argument that one and done is a good rule. But there isn't a place where a player can develop once he goes pro. You can send him to the D-League or Europe but then that player gets lost in the basketball system and never realize their dream of playing in the NBA, because that is the ultimate goal. The D-League simply isn't enough of a minor league because you have "veteran" players still trying to get an NBA contract.
Some players turn pro after one season, but really have no business doing so. They either sit on the bench and wash out or they just never develop properly. Look at Michael Beasley. He parlayed his one great college season into being the second pick in the NBA Draft. But he hasn't been the star that many had projected him to be. He could've benefited from another year in college solely just to grow up as a man.
Even some players who play three years never develop (Hasheem Thabeet), but I think that unless you're a truly special player then you should be playing professional. It would benefit the college game and the NBA as fans would get to know the names of the players.
Some basketball fans don't watch college basketball and don't even know who's coming to the league when they're drafted. The topic will ignite a firestorm of criticism as many find it wrong to prevent players from earning a salary at age 19.
While there are some that can play one year of college ball and excel in the NBA, not all are able to do it.