Bob Knight, a once-great college basketball coach who now makes a living by saying obnoxiously irreverent things for ESPN, has an opinion about the NBA's age minimum and the one-and-done culture it created. He shared this opinion with an ESPN radio show, and The Sporting News' Chris Littmann shared it with us:
"If I were involved with the NBA I wouldn't want a 19-year-old or a 20-year-old kid, to bring into all the travel and all the problems that exist in the NBA. I would want a much more mature kid. I would want a kid that maybe I've been watching on another team and now he's 21, 22 years old instead of 18 or 19, and I might trade for that kid."
Cool story, Person Who Doesn't Seem To Know Anything About How The NBA's Internal Talent Pipeline Works.
"On top of it all, the NBA does a tremendous, gigantic disservice to college basketball. It's as though they've raped college basketball in my opinion."
Look, this would be ugly even if Bob Knight didn't have a horribly troubling history with rape analogies. Rape is an incredible violence imparted by humans on other humans. Nothing short of rape itself compares. You know what's just like rape? Rape. That's it. Nothing else. I don't care if you're old, if you were just using a turn of phase, if you were trying to make a point with a little extra emphasis. You don't compare business systems perceived to be unfair to rape.
Even once you get past the horrifying frame Knight has put his case in, there's still nothing of value. A cabal of educational institutions profits to the tune of billions of dollars per year by producing sports entertainment in which the primary actors -- athletes -- don't get a nickel. Knight has personally made a career in this field, (quite literally) commandeering teams of unpaid youth to profitable (for him) title runs, using his legacy and allegedly his hands to get players in line. Now he gets paid to complain about how other people are ruining college basketball, when college basketball has never been healthier in a financial sense.
Bridge to Nowhere
Bridge to Nowhere
Two decades ago, an increasing number of players began to realize how goofy it was to spend time catching spittle from guys like Knight when they could jump straight to the NBA and get paid. A decade ago, the NBA decided to restrict entry to players 19 or older, sending the bulk of preps-to-pros prospects to college. The NBA did not do this to ruin college basketball. The NBA did this for its own selfish, money-driven reasons.
Fools like Knight have been complaining ever since. Knight infamously accused Kentucky of making the Elite Eight with a bevy of one-and-done players who had never attended a class. Patrick Patterson, a star of that team, graduated in three years. John Wall had a 3.5 GPA in Lexington. For people like Knight, who watched the NCAA pass them by, it's convenient to blame the NBA. The big leagues are an easy mark, especially with Knight's core audience (angry white men).
But here's the thing. One-and-done culture didn't arrive until 2005. Bob Knight's last Final Four came in 1992; he coached 15 more seasons, making the Sweet 16 just three more times. The game passed him by before the age minimum arrived. Is it the NBA's fault, too, that Knight couldn't keep up with younger, better recruiters? With younger, better coaches? Tell us about the good ol' days, Bobby, when no one complained when you manhandled 18-year-olds in practice, slapped opposing coaches on the sidelines and taught your players memorable etymological lessons.
I thought "the name Bob Knight is synonymous with greatness and winning," as his bio on the flap of his autobiography claims. Turns out there's a little "bitching about changing of the seasons" and "horrifying rape analogies" in him, too.