In this OPS Viewpoint we look at this issue.
Winning the NBA Rookie and MVP honors this year are former prep to pro players Kevin Garnett and James. While everyone felt James was a sure deal, many had there doubts about Garnett and his chance of making it. With his announcement this week, Sebastian Telfair has joined at least 6 others in this year's draft. Did Telfair and the others make the right or wrong decision?
Telfair, the silky smooth point guard with huge skills has guaranteed money from shoe company Adidas, just as James had with Nike one year ago. The off court money should set Tefair for life, but the question of him being 5'11 and not the 6'8 of James, make many wonder if he can compete against the grown men in the NBA. Because of his skills Telfair will see some team take the chance in the draft with hopes he pans out. No different than the teams who have taken high school players in the past. I'm sure many teams are kicking themselves for passing on Garnett now.
Because of the shoe money, Telfair should go. His stock is at its highest and may never reach that level again. The fact he will earn high dollars from his NBA contract just increases why he should go. If Telfair adds to the list of prep players who make an impact, look for the numbers to rise and the NBA push harder in placing an age restriction to enter.
Don't think for a moment college didn't use Telfair. Many have talked about University of Louisville basketball coaches telling recruits about what Telfair would do for their game if they signed with the Cardinals. In today's disposable society, money is the only thing that matters for most. With coaches making up to 1 million a year, can you blame a kid for wanting his share?
The problem is while Telfair has the Adidas money the other kids have put themselves out on a limb with no guarantees. While many feel a couple have a great chance to succeed, the others will find real life experiences and could go without being drafted and end up like Lenny Cooke.
Who you ask is Lenny Cooke? Many felt he was the next sure thing out of high school. Earning honors such as MVP at the 2000 Adidas ABCD Camp. Cooke had many talking into his ear about wealth and greatness. With poor grades, Cooke took the plunge and entered the draft only to see no team pick him. Today Cooke travels the world looking for hoop work.
Don't be fooled, players like Shaun Livingston have been told they will go high and earn big dollars. Plus with them getting early service years only adds to their long term financial package. It's hard to believe Garnet has been in the league so many years. But it's paid off on the court and off the court. Will it be the same for Telfair and the others? Only time and how smart they prove to be off the court will tell.
While it would have been great to see these young men play for a college, I'm not a fool to what really matters in today's world. Money, as the saying goes. Money won't buy you happiness, but it sure makes the trip a lot easier.
While I agree that you should get a college education, I still hold out hope that these players who go early look to earn one down the road. The odds are against them doing so, but you have to hope they see the value and understand sports are not always going to be part of their life.
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