Sorry, but I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about Bobby Knight’s comments regarding the NBA one and done rule. Coach Knight is many things. Eloquent isn’t one of them. But in this case, he is right.
On Tuesday morning, during an interview on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, the former Indiana University basketball coach stated that the current NBA one and done rule has “raped college basketball.” Would “robbed” have been a better choice of words? Absolutely.
But Coach Knight makes a good point. The current system allows college players eligibility for the NBA draft after completing just one year of college basketball. That’s one year after graduating high school.
Do you remember where your head was at 19 years old? Now, imagine someone throwing millions of dollars at you, taking you far from your loved ones, putting you on private planes, and putting you up in fancy hotels with professional athletes (and all that comes with them) several nights a week.
And that’s exactly what we’re getting in the NBA.
Moreover, the point Coach Knight makes is that from a college standpoint, it makes it nearly impossible to run a team. Sign a star player, build around them, and you’ve got — one season to make it happen? How do you do that? How does anyone do that? And what are you teaching these players about teamwork and consistency and relationships?
Is it any wonder these athletes get to the NBA and act like spoiled brats? And demand trades when it doesn’t work out after one season? Because that’s what we’ve taught them. And that’s what their highly compensated agents (with a vested interest) are telling them. “It’s all about you. Forget the team. Do what’s right for you.”
And then we criticize the players when they continue that mindset as an adult. But, that’s the first problem. They may be professionals. But they’re not adults. They’re kids. And uneducated kids at that.
Coach Knight is right. The NBA is robbing these kids of an important time in their lives. Those years spent in college are not just spent in the classroom. They’re also spent building relationships, resolving conflicts, and figuring out who they are and who they want to be, as well as what they want to do. They’re spent growing up. And we’re not allowing these kids time to grow up.
And I’m sorry, but taking some courses during the summer and at the end of their career does not make up for it. The whole idea of a college education is to have something to fall back on when your inevitably short career as a pro athlete comes to an end. Again, is it any wonder these players have such a hard time adjusting to life once their professional playing days are over?
The college programs are paying the price. The NBA is paying the price. But, it’s the kids who pay the real price. And for the rest of their lives.
Don’t blame the athletes. They’re put in an impossible situation. Blame the system. Blame the NBA.
The one and done rule is the real definition of March Madness.