Nothin' but Net: Age limit is wrong

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Updated: 3/14 12:18 pm

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA's age limit requirement states a player must be "at least 19 years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held," and "at least one NBA Season has elapsed since the player's graduation from high school."

If new Commissioner Adam Silver has his way, that age will be raised to 20.

The idea stinks, but then so does the current rule.

First, as background, the notion of age-related restriction has never sat well in this man's soul.

A person has to be 16 to get a driver's license in the United States, although that varies state to state.

Same person has to be 18 to buy scratch-offs or a pack of Pall-Malls, even serve his or her country, although, again, that can vary based on parental consent.

Same person has to be 21 to legally buy a Budweiser in his or her local Applebee's.

That's convoluted enough, trying to declare someone an adult when so many governing bodies have so many different criteria.

The NBA has decided it knows what's best for a young man. The argument is that players aren't ready either physically or mentally to handle the rigors of the professional life. Let's ignore that the NBA shouldn't be in the business of knowing what is best for a young man, or knowing better what's best for that young better than his family does.

That point about readiness is hard to argue. My advice would be for the youngster to listen to the right people and make an informed decision.

The list of drafted players since roughly 2000 is littered with high school kids who came out too early and never made a lasting impact on the league. Sure, there is another side of the coin, players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James. They were can't-miss prospects.

Again, maybe if the long list of NBA failures who came out too early listened to better people, people who weren't interested in making the family payroll, then their lives wouldn't be where they are now.

The whole age debate comes down to buyer beware. Someone made each of these misguided youths believe he was going to be a big star. That kid and his family bought what the agent/coach/AAU personnel was selling and a bad decision was made.

That's not the fault of a league without an age limit, that's a kid trying to improve his situation. He gets paid for services and improves his, and his family's, lot in life. It's short-sighted, yes, but his choice.

And with an age restriction, what we got was the destruction of college basketball. Make no mistake, the NBA has no interest in what happens with college basketball only until that collegiate athlete joins the Association. Nor should the NBA care how the rules it chooses to implement affect any other organization.

So if the NBA is hindering 18-year-olds from coming to the league, the reasoning has to be self-serving (meant that literally, not the negative connotation).

The thinking appears to be that the teams suffer when these kids aren't ready.

There are so many simple solutions to that. Don't draft that player.

If the organization believes strongly that someone isn't ready to play in the league, don't take him. No general manager wants to be the guy who passed on Tracy McGrady or Dwight Howard, but if, at the highest level of the franchise, those in charge don't feel like an 18-year-old is ready for NBA life, ignore him for a more-seasoned prospect.

The team could always draft him and cultivate his game through practice. That's hard. It's a win-now league, but decisions like this one have paid off for teams. Look at Gerald Green, Martell Webster or Amir Johnson. All got taken lower than they thought, but all have carved out serviceable careers.

Why not stash the kid in the D-League if a GM feels he's worth the risk down the line?

Ultimately, the decision rests on the team whether or not the kid is worth it. Therefore, if a team feels he can contribute to the team's success, what's age have to do with it?

The goal of team management is to improve win totals and populate the rafters with championship banners. If an 18-year-old or even a 19-year-old can do that, and it can happen, how is it fair to regulate against that?

And this isn't a Constitutional law debate, either.

The NBA's rule doesn't stop these youngsters from earning wages. They can play overseas like Brandon Jennings did, so no need to alert the Supreme Court for a pending lawsuit. But a kid can always go back to college if the league doesn't pan out. So, if we're looking out for the young, he has options. The teams can be set back years by a bad pick.

The whole notion that an 18-year-old can't help an NBA franchise is ludicrous. Look at the names listed who bypassed high school for the NBA. They are some of the best in the history of the sport. Did they help immediately? No, but there are no guarantees anywhere in the draft. Take a four-year kid and who's to say he's the most mature person in the world, ready to lead a team from the start of camp.

The idea that age restrictions need to be in place at all, in a work force, makes no sense.

In the last 10 years, two actresses under the age of 14 were nominated for Academy Awards. Think they should've been excluded from working? Granted, the physical wear and tear Abigail Breslin experienced filming "Little Miss Sunshine" is in no way comparable to the rigors of an NBA season, youth worked pretty well.

If there is a 16-year-old oboe prodigy ready for the Boston Philharmonic, should he or she be excluded? Again, physicality and what not, but if you're ready to contribute to the professional world, sometimes exceptions can be made.

The NBA's age requirement law precludes that and it's not right.

Yes, there are more stories of sorrow from ill-advised high-schoolers. Darius Miles, Leon Smith and Jonathan Bender never really panned out, but James, Bryant and Howard have.

Silver and the league are looking out for the product. That's admirable, but the onus in the question of youth in the league belongs first with the kid, then with the teams.

Raising the limit a year won't help.

Buyer beware.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Kobe Bryant gets to say whatever he wants about the Los Angeles Lakers organization. He doesn't get veto power in terms of trades or hirings, but he deserves to be in the loop on decisions. Same goes for Carmelo Anthony and this Phil Jackson situation. Melo can't say, "No, don't hire him," but informing superstars of huge franchise moves is practical. It's not kissing fannies.

- I'm starting to feel badly for two of this season's best stories - the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. Portland, which will be without best player LaMarcus Aldridge for at least a week. is sinking close to the sixth seed and it would be tough for them to advance in the playoffs. Phoenix is now out of the Western playoff mix. It's a case of not letting a bad finish overthrow remarkable progress.

- Any fan still not want Andrew Wiggins on his or her team?

- According to the New York Post, the Houston Rockets will make a push for Anthony in the offseason. Why not? There are going to be so many teams rumored in deals between now and the day he signs.

- Here is Steve Nash in a video documentary for Grantland: "I'm not going to retire because I want the money. It's honest. We want honest athletes, but, at the same time, you're going to have people out there saying, 'He's so greedy. He's made X amount of money and he has to take this last little bit.' Yes, I do, have to take that last little bit. I'm sorry if that is frustrating to some, but if they were in my shoes, they would do exactly the same thing. I wouldn't believe for a minute that they wouldn't." His point is right on the money, but not sure I can totally respect this.

- Movie moment - Watched "Tombstone" for the 100th time on Thursday and here's my question: Does any male even watch any scene with Dana Delany in it?

- TV moment - Here are my two guilty-pleasure shows at the moment: "Amish Mafia," and "Hollywood Game Night."

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