Final (Four) Thoughts


ONE AND DONE

I fundamentally disagree with the concept of one and done.  Players should be allowed to enter the league directly from high school.  It is an artificial contrivance of the league and the NCAA that forces players to spend a year on a college campus playing basketball for free.  The NBA game is fundamentally different than the college game, and given the time constraints on practice time does not always provide the best training to succeed as a professional.

Players will develop and shine like KG, Kobe and Lebron, and players will fail like Lenny Cooke and Korleone Young.  This is unavoidable, and is not appreciably impacted by attending college.  Several players who could be regarded as flops in basketball terms, like Jonathon Bender and Dasagna Diop, stayed in the league for several years and earned far more money than I have practicing law over the last 19 years.

If the NBA is concerned about players, contracts for straight from high school and/or early college entrants could include monies held in trust for the cost of a college education thus protecting the scholarship they are foregoing to play professionally.

If the NBA is concerned about it’s misjudgment of talent, it can help protect itself through the development of the D-League, and salary cap exceptions for players that are either not on or partially on the NBA roster during the course of the season.

That said, the current rules provide for one and done in college basketball, and unless you have the authority or fortitude to change the rule….stop bitching about it.  John Calipari was the first to embrace the rule and recruit NBA-ready players with the full understanding that they would play for the Wildcats for one year before moving on to the professional ranks.  With the candor of that understanding, Coach Cal has been able to build a program where there is strong evidence that the one and done players have had a positive and meaningful experience during there one season in Lexington, and continued to enjoy a relationship with the institution.

Duke won the title last night with two or three one and done players, and it was a joy to watch.  The team, like Coach Cal’s Kentucky, played unselfishly and together throughout their run.  Coach K spoke glowingly of the team, and his conscious decision to target and invest deeply in the lives of these players that would only wear Blue for a single season.  The authenticity of the relationship and joy of the experience was evident on the podium.

Value is qualitative, not quantitative.  Life is defined not by daily breathing, but by the moments that take our breath away.  With honesty toward each other one and done players and teams can build relationships and memories that will serve everyone involved, and should not be dismissed as rented players, corruption personified or any other negative bullshit.

BO RYAN

I genuinely enjoyed this Wisconsin team.  They were very talented, played loose and competitively with an inspiring espirit de corps.  I would not have been disappointed if they won the title, and given my long history of hatred toward all things Big 10 and midwestern, this was no small accomplishment.  I agree that they were on the wrong side of several bad calls during the final, but I found Bo Ryan’s post-game demeanor unsavory.

Ryan made vague reference to the game being played a particular way, lashed out against rented players, and rattled off statistics attesting to the quality of his team.  He certainly said several other things in praise of his praise-worthy team, and with which I have no qualm, but it was bizarre and bitter.

Sports is about winning.  We, as bystanders, will not worry ourselves with the legacy of 38-1 Kentucky or runner up Wisconsin a year or even six months from now.  We, as bystanders, move on with Duke as our champion until next March.  Ryan would have been better served praising his team, reveling in the journey that took them to Monday night and reflecting on the moments of time they shared on that journey that we, as bystanders, never got more than a glimpse because it is the unseen moments of coach and team that will endure with the Badgers through time.

KENTUCKY

In the final five minutes of a game they led by four points, their offense floundered and they got beat.  They lost to an excellent opponent that returned largely intact from losing to the Cats at the same juncture of the tournament last year, and badly wanted revenge.  History will not reward this team for their season.  It just doesn’t work that way.

It does not mean their is anything wrong with Kentucky or the way they go about building teams.  College basketball featured three, and with the inclusion of Arizona, four exceptional teams capable of beating each other on any given night.  It is not time to overreact.  When the teams are so balanced, games turn on the margins and details, and sometimes simple luck.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans did themselves proud in reaching the Final Four, but were badly outclassed in Indianapolis.  Sometimes the best you can do is to squeeze everything you can from yourselves and accept the result.

One thought on “Final (Four) Thoughts

  1. Good read, as per usual. Totally agree on the point about the whole of the one-and-done system… Coaches Cal and K catch a ton of heat for recruiting these players, as if they were solely responsible for that rule being in place. Reality suggests that they’re simply the best at playing the hand that both the NBA and the NCAA dealt them.

    So long as the Association can get a year of cost and hassle-free development for their future stars under a college athletics system (where a whole different set of power brokers get to profit off of said stars), it’s difficult to imagine the status quo changing. As such, those coaches might become more deeply entrenched in their recruiting tactics.

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