11 April 2016
Let's Be Done With "One-and-Done"
Guest Post by Leon Moore
“He’s not ready, but he has to come out. He has no choice. There’s too much money there for him and he can’t go back to college and then face his friends back home. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it just is.” - John Thompson (4)
Freshman Jabari Parker and Duke had just been upset in their first round matchup by Mercer University. Jakob Gollon, a senior for Mercer, went 5-9 from the field, and 9-9 from the free throw line to score 20 points. Jabari Parker scored 14 points on 4-14 shooting. (6)
For many fans of college basketball including myself, this game was beautiful, partly because Duke lost, but partly because of what the result represented. The senior Gollon had no chance at making the NBA. It was clear he played basketball for the joy of playing, and he was rewarded.
Now consider his high-profile opponent in the game, Jabari Parker. Parker was a lock to be drafted in the top five that june, with most people considering him one of the top two prospects. In college, like Gollon, Parker was playing for the joy of playing. Yet to fans like myself, there was a cloud over his college career. We all knew that he would be “one-and-done,” and leave college after just one year. He would not develop in college and play for four years in all of the rich traditions that define college basketball and college athletics more generally. In that game, Parker represented the trend towards leaving college early to make money in the NBA.
You cannot blame Parker or any of the other “one-and-done” players for making the decision to leave early though. As John Thompson said, “He has no choice.” Now, we will look at the impact economics have had in creating the NBA’s rules regarding when players can enter the draft.
The NBA would like to change the rule to require athletes to forgo the draft for two years after high school as opposed to the current minimum of one year (3). The NBA believes doing this would allow teams to better analyze talent and therefore make better, more informed, draft choices (3). Adam Silver said, “We feel that these players are better off having more time developing as players before they enter into this league.” (1) He added, “I’m making a business decision for the NBA, which is to the betterment of the league and the roughly 430 jobs we have in this league.” (1) NBA owners also would not have to pay for the development of these players if they stayed in college, and importantly, would not have to hold a roster spot for them (5).
However, the NBA Players’ Association is not on board. Michele Roberts, the executive director, in 2011, argued against an age limit, saying “You have a limited life to make money as a basketball player. Anything that limits those opportunities is distressing to me. I view [the age minimum] as just another device that serves to limit a players' ability to make a living." (5)
Some view the NBPA’s opposition as merely a way to create a bargaining chip with the NBA (4). In 2017, there is the possibility that a collective bargaining contract will be reopened between the NBA and the NBPA. The players would like a higher salary cap while the owners and league do not want to compromise, yet also want to reform the one-and-done rule. David Stern, before retiring, said “They see it as a negotiating chip, we aren’t willing to give up what they want in return for making the change.” (4)
It seems nothing will happen unless there is compromise from both sides. The NBA is seeing revenue increase greatly, so the players should be entitled to more money. The salary cap should increase some, but the players association needs to do what is right and change the one-and-done rule. Players feel incredible pressure to turn pro, as they ponder huge salaries, often being forced to disregard what might be in their best interest developmentally (2). Any number of systems should be looked at, including but not limited to what the NBA has proposed and what the MLB currently does. The point is that the current system is broken, and compromise will be the only way to fix it.