Kids Definitely Getting Wrong Advice About Trying To Beat NBA Age Restrictions

By Gregory Moore
Updated: July 13, 2006

SAN ANTONIO — The New York Times article sent a chill down my spine. Here was basically an industry nobody, Reggie Rose, telling the writers from the Times who wrote the story that maybe his brother, talented point guard Derrick Rose, might need to either get a trainer and work on obtaining a shoe deal or try to play overseas in Europe before making the jump to the NBA.

“Once one or two players nationally go that route, a big chain will follow,” the elder Rose said in a July 9th article on the possibility of his brother getting an agent and making the jump to the Euro leagues.

What also sent a chill up my spine was the once again mention of Sonny Vaccaro actually thinking about wanting to find sponsors for a �barn storming� venture of several top players to do just such a thing. When I read those few lines in the piece, I just shuddered at the thought. �Oh great,� I�m thinking.

�Instead of Vaccaro trying to help bridge a gap where these elite players need to ensure they have the fundamental skill sets for the college and/or professional ranks, he wants to find a way to make money and parade them around like prize show ponies�.

Those were my thoughts then and they are definitely my words now as I look at what the elder Rose and Vaccaro believe to be a viable solution to a perceived loophole in the NBA collective bargaining agreement.

ONCE AGAIN, LACK OF BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE SHOWS It was a little over a year ago that I did an interview with Sporting News Radio�s Tim Brando where the last part of the interview he asked me my view on the then new collective bargaining agreement in which a high school senior can no longer make the jump to the NBA and that the rookie salary contract is now a guaranteed two year deal and not the three years of previous times.

I was very poignant about how this was good for the many African American basketball players that were going to be affected. When he asked me about the AAU coaches and their chance at possibly influencing a kid to hold back a bit before taking that leap test, I told him that if I were such a coach, I�d do it because it benefited me more than it benefited that player.

Yet he and I both knew that when ploys like that were being made, that meant that nobody in that kid�s inner circle cared about the ball player. Not his coaches. Not his family members. Not his supposed trusted advisors. For damn sure it wouldn�t Vaccaro and others.

What it also showed was a lack of business knowledge by anyone trying to say they understood the world of the NBA.

Vaccaro, Rose and anyone else who thinks that high school kids should skip playing college ball, sign shoe deals, get trainers and/or try to jump into the world of the International Basketball Federation better known as FIBA.

If such individuals are thinking that they will be able to skirt around the NBA and find their dreams by going internationally, they will soon find out that it may be actually harder to go this route than originally planned. Playing in the European leagues is more than just finding an agent that can hook you up with a national federation.

It�s about going out and being able get your passport to travel to and from this country. It�s about learning different customs in countries that you have never been in and realizing that you are on �foreign� soil and not at home.

I want to kind of go over the statement of learning the customs in a new land because for these young men, this would be the most difficult thing to accept. Whether our society wants to believe it or not, the laws in other countries are a lot stricter than what is here at home.

I don�t want to single out young Black ball players but because this idea actually affects them more than their Hispanic, Asian or Caucasian counterparts, I have no choice.

Whether we want to accept the fact or not, most of the sports police blotter that has come across news desks in the past few weeks have more to do with African American athletes than it does with others. Think of the numerous Black athletes that have been in scuffles with the law right now as young men?

Guys like childhood friends of Carmelo Anthony, Tyler Smith would be in serious trouble in Europe if he were caught with illegal drugs in the car. Isaiah �don�t call me J.R.� Rider was arrested again this week but imagine if he did this latest crime overseas.

And while I�m not saying that none of these high school potential stars couldn�t handle playing overseas in Europe, the chances of their survival because of their immaturity levels definitely does not bode well for them in the odds of success/failure ratio.

PLAYING IN COLLEGE ACTUALLY A BUILDING BLOCK NEEDED Whether people want to hear this or not, for African American basketball players wishing to make millions in the NBA or even overseas, playing at the college level is more of a building block for a good foundation rather than a hindrance.

Far too many in this microcosmic community believe that if they had a child that was as talented as a LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or even a young phenom like an O.J. Mayo. Even if that kid is as good as the afore mentioned players, does that mean that his parents should forsake their duty in making sure that their talented young man gets a good educational foundation as well?

They probably shouldn�t forsake their duties in this regard but I am willing to bet the house on the fact that far too many matriarchs, patriarchs, uncles, brothers and so-called family experts on professional sports do exactly that and when the financial rewards simply do not materialize, they are ready to either scream some type of social injustice or say that they just didn�t know the intricacies of the business matters at hand.

In some regards, playing at college kind of prepares these young athletes for the perils at hand.

Playing college ball isn�t just about playing in front of big crowds but also about being able to handle the pressures that come along with newfound fame and stardom.

If a player is talented enough to even think about skipping college and go play at some academy like the IMF Academy or Oak Hills, hire a trainer and get a shoe deal or bolt overseas, then he�s good enough to at least try his hand at playing in the structured environment of college ball for two seasons.

The structured environment that is at this level is what is needed to hone the basic skill sets that these players may need and it also where these players can acquire them if they never really had them to begin with.

Whether playing in college is the right thing to do or not, what I can definitely tell you from reading the NY Times piece is that if there are so-called family members who are advising their young prot�g�s into making the jump to play in Europe or to skip college, we are in for some very tragic views of lives being destroyed.

I have said this far too many times to count but professional sports is a business and having the talent to get there is only part of the equation. The knowledge on knowing how to market that talent, hone that talent and use that talent to the point to where it makes you gobs of money never dreamed of is a hard one to learn.

Very few athletes have that type of temperament to do so and the list is even fewer when you start thinking about the number of players who can do it coming from the international battle zones known as the National clubs of the FIBA leagues.

It may be a tragedy in the making but nobody can say we weren�t fore warned about it chances. If there comes a mass exodus of high school seniors headed to the FIBA ranks, be prepared to hear the heart breaking stories of so many kids being turned away because they weren�t ready to play in that league either.

Simply put, if guys like Vaccaro and Reggie Rose were TRULY interested in helping young basketball player succeed, then uttering such choices to an internationally recognized newspaper like the Times would not have ever happened.

Let�s hope that their words don�t become the catalyst for poor decisions that could be made by a segment of the population that believes that the road to true economic freedom and security by forsaking a chance at an education is the correct �career� path.

The only career path that could truly be certain is one of continued ignorance, poverty and misery; the very things that many of these young ball players want to escape from.