NBA Lockout Provides Extra Opportunity For Patronizing Glorification Of College

LOS ANGELES CA - FEBRUARY 18: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards and the Rookie Team reacts in the second half during the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam at Staples Center on February 18 2011 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Only John Wall can save our society from the scourge of undervalued education, writes a newspaper columnist. The Hook responds.


Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post wrote about John Wall going back to school during the NBA lockout. My inner monologue while reading her column somehow showed up on this page, with each thought neatly tucked under the boldface sentence(s) from Hamilton's column which sparked said thoughts. The magic of the internet!

Do it, John Wall.

Trying to deliver a personal message to John Wall via a newspaper column seems like an inefficient method of communication. Are we sure John Wall even takes a paper? He travels a lot, you know. Perhaps take out an ad in SkyMall?

Don't let yourself be lured by offers from European leagues.

In the online version of this column, that sentence is linked to a story in which Wall himself says that he has no plans to play overseas. But ... good idea, Ms. Hamilton!

Don't fall victim to the fantasy of nonstop Xbox.

The "fantasy" of nonstop Xbox to an NBA player is like the "fantasy" of unlimited Minesweeper to an accountant. NBA players spend vast swaths of the year in towns like Sacramento and San Antonio with literally nothing to do but sleep and play Xbox all day. If any NBA player said to themselves at the outset of the lockout, "Well, at least now I'll have unlimited time to play more Xbox!" ... well, that player was probably Andray Blatche.

Don't waste the time given you by the NBA lockout.

Don't waste the gift bestowed upon you that is, for all intents and purposes, forced unemployment!

Do it, John.

Ooh, the vague "it" again. What could "it" be? Join the professional sandcastle-building tour. Take up a paper route. Deconstruct one of your signature shoes and rebuild it as an ice cream parlor. Visit Machu Picchu. Get your cosmetology license. Buy a madeira vineyard in Portugal. Try out for the D.C. United. Find the chupacabra. Open up U.S. relations with Castro. Create jobs. Roll your own cigarettes. Sit for a caricature at a carnival.

Go back to college.


Wall told the Associated Press he was considering continuing his education at Kentucky if the lockout isn't settled soon. No one in Wall's family has ever gotten a college degree, although his sister is a sophomore and might beat him to it.

"Might?" Imagine if you were John Wall's sister Johnette Wall and you read this, and your brother finished one year of college before going pro and becoming an instant millionaire while you bust your ass to put yourself through college, and now you're a sophomore and he's a pro basketball player and he might dabble in college over the next few summers to get his degree, and this chick says in a national newspaper that you, John Wall's sister Johnette Wall, might beat him to the degree? Crushing.

So he would be the second person in his family to graduate college. That's still impressive. It's even more impressive when you don't have to do it.

John and Johnette Wall to Tracee Hamilton: "We have both graduated college!" Hamilton to Walls: "Awesome! That's impressive!" John Wall to Hamilton: "I didn't even have to. I'm really rich." Hamilton to John Wall: "That's even more impressive!" Johnette Wall to Hamilton: "Wait ... what?"

Wall will make a lot of money in his NBA career, which has only just begun. Barring rash investments or spendthrift living, he should be able to live comfortably on the proceeds without having to work again.

In other words, unless Wall is a dummy or surrounds himself with crooks, he should never need to take a job that requires college training.

Wall wants to study business management, which is a great idea for a guy who was a millionaire before he was 20.

But a terrible idea for anyone else, apparently. "What was your net worth at age 19, Business School Applicant? Hmm, $0? Well, business school might not be right for you ..."

If you're going to have a pile of money, you should have some notion of what to do with it.

He could take a photo with it. He could build a money castle with it. He could put it all in a bag and re-enact the climax of Ocean's 11. He could hide underneath it. He could put it under his mattress. He could set it on fire. He could put it in the stock market. Oh wait I already said that. He could cartoonishly roll around in it. He could throw it on a belly dancer.

A degree might help protect him from being ripped off or from blowing through his stash before his career is over.

No one who goes to college gets ripped off, you see. A college diploma is like a magic shield to use against crooks. "Accio Leather-Bound Bachelor's Degree!"

More importantly ...

What's more important than not getting ripped off or blowing through his stash by age 35?

... Wall's return to campus would speak volumes about the value of education to a group that may not get it: the players who are leaving college after one year to enter the NBA draft, particularly those who are leaving Kentucky after one year.

Oh. What's more important is a soft, quasi-existent notion that a 20-year-old millionaire has great positive influence over 19-year-old millionaires.

This is the problem: the idea that players who are leaving college after one year to enter the NBA draft don't understand the value of education is ridiculously simplified, prejudiced and abjectly inaccurate. Earth to Tracee Hamilton, come in Tracee Hamilton: 19-year-olds do not leave the University of Kentucky or any other institution of higher learning because they do not value education. They do so because employers are offering, in most cases, four-year guaranteed contracts worth millions of dollars in their chosen profession. They do so because it is the smartest business decision they can make (unless they are Daniel Orton, in which case there is no smart business decision to be made). 

You know why players as good as John Wall go to college in the first place? Because they have to. Because the NBA set an age minimum to save some money and heartache caused by scouting high school kids. The one-and-done phenomenon is not, from the players' perspective, an indictment of the value of education. It's a path to gainful and lucrative employment in the best basketball league in the world. To imply these players need someone like John Wall to show them a full college education is worth it is to imply they are all dummies. They are not all dummies. Stop patronizing them. They do not need your career guidance.

[...] According to Michael Lee, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo and Sixers guard Jodie Meeks are considering using the lockout time to pursue their studies, as are Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, who both left Kentucky early, like Wall.

Wait ... so four of the more prominent undergrad draftees in recent UK history have already said they might take class during the lockout? I thought John Wall was going to lead them there? I thought that He was going to speak volumes about the value of education and play his flute and lead these barbarians to civilization?

[...] Wall makes no secret of the fact that he misses Lexington. He was used to playing in packed arenas, full of rabid fans. That hasn't been his NBA experience thus far. The Wizards will have to improve exponentially before it is. But if Wall wanted that atmosphere, he could have stayed in Lexington three more seasons. That was the price he paid for going pro.

The price for staying in school would have been, for 2010-2013, $24 million. Awesome atmosphere 15 times a year? $24 million? Tough choice, but I'm going to disagree with the moralizer and take the pile of money. I have bellydancers coming by later this morning.

(I also love the idea of "exponential" improvement for the Wizards. Washington won 23 games last season. A modest exponential improvement would be 232. That'd be 529 wins next season. Holy cow! I bet that would get the Phone Booth packed!

Now, he has an opportunity to give back, to send a message to kids of all ages that a college degree is something to strive for. He also has an opportunity to use his money and his free time for something worthwhile to John Wall.

"Go to college" is a message definitely not emphasized enough in our society. Save us from ourselves, John Wall via Tracee Hamilton. And save yourself, too.

So do it, John Wall.

You know you want to.

Pursue that degree.

I bet your adrenaline's pumping just thinking about it.

Race your sister to the finish.

Take a leave of absence from the Wizards and balloon to 250 pounds, if you have to. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPETITION YOU WILL EVER COMPETE IN.

Even if she beats you, you'll both still win.

Truth be told, even if you never make it to the finish line, you'll both still win, because she's a smart woman and you're one of the best 30 basketball players on the planet, this being a planet in which the very best basketball players in the world have many piles of money.

So this whole college thing? Eh, could be fun. It's more productive than playing Xbox all day, right?


The Hook runs Monday through Friday. See the archives.

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