The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced Thursday their G-League will start offering “select” $125,000 contracts to players who are 18 years old, but not eligible to enter the NBA draft.
That statement, dumbed down, essentially says the NBA will begin playing top high school players who want money now, instead of going to college for a year.
This is dangerous, in my opinion, especially with everything that’s going on with the FBI probe into college basketball.
Here’s the problem; a NCAA National Championship is worth more to a school than $125,000. Ask Auburn. They allegedly paid Cam Newton $275,000 for their national championship. That’s for a football player who doesn’t control a game nearly as much as a basketball player with only ten players on a court at a time.
Just last year, DeAndre Ayton was accused of taking $100,000 from Sean Miller and agent Christian Dawkins in order for Ayton to sign with Arizona. The future first overall NBA draft pick eventually did choose Arizona over Kentucky and Kansas, who were also both named in the a recent Yahoo! Sports report about bribery.
Christian Dawkins was also linked to Cynthia Bridges, the mother of Miles Bridges in a Yahoo! report. It’s no coincidence these top players are named in these reports.
When it comes to giving players benefits, college basketball is even dirtier than college football Here’s the problem; you can’t blame the athletes.
Kids start at a very young age getting benefits for playing. I coached a 7-year-old football team in Knoxville, TN, home of the Tennessee Vols. I had one of the best running backs in the league and the following year, he went to another team because they bought him a Ps4, gloves and a helmet visor. So, if an 8-year-old is getting a video gaming console valued at $400 bucks or so, what does an 18-year-old expect?
Also, most of the kids who are top players don’t come from ideal socio-economic situations. Take Miles Bridges. He came from Flint, MI where residents don’t have access to safe drinking water. Do you think he’s going to turn down $100 grand? Absolutely not, and I wouldn’t expect him to.
So, the NBA has now created a bidding war for top college teams with the floor being $125,000. None of the smaller schools will be able to get a top player anymore and it will create more disparity in a sport that’s spectacular because of March Madness. The top revenue teams will get a few super stars and the rest will go to the G-League.
I am all for players receiving pay to play, because athletes create more revenue for schools than most of the other students combined. It’s a billion dollar industry and the players see none of that (legally). Doing things illegally creates a bidding war and bidding wars create many other social and ethical dilemmas.
The solution: Let high school standouts test the draft. If they do not hire an agent, they can come back to school. Players like LeBron, Kobe and KG had no business in college. They were built for the NBA. There will be players like those three in the future, and they have no need to go to the G-league or college. They’ll be ready to step into the limelight right away.
The mantra is no longer, “let the kids play!” It’s, “let the kids get paid!”