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NBA Players Association attorney says age limit is racially biased

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The NBPA's general counsel suggested the current NBA's age limit -- and any increases that may come in the future -- is hypocritical and wouldn't be in place if the league was majority white.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA age minimum is sure to be a contentious point in the next NBA labor negotiations. Currently, it's 19, which requires players to go to college or make other arrangements for a year after high school. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on record saying the league wants to raise that number to 20.

The NBA Players Association ... has other ideas. Their view was spelled out emphatically by NBPA general counsel Gary Kohlman during a sports law conference. Via the AP:

"If they were white and hockey players they would be out there playing. If they were white and baseball players they would be out there playing," Kohlman said. "Because most of them are actually African-American and are in a sport and precluded from doing it, they have to go into this absurd world of playing for one year.

"That's just total complete hypocrisy."

In baseball, players who graduate high school are eligible to be drafted. In hockey, one must be at least 18 years old on September 15. Of course, both sports have more robust minor league systems for young players, so they generally aren't in the big leagues at such a young age. The NBA could get there one day, but it's not there yet.

Nevertheless, the NBPA has been adamantly against any sort of age minimum. The league previously allowed players to declare directly out of high school, but the rule was changed in 2005. Current NBPA head Michele Roberts is on record saying she's "completely against" raising it further.

Kohlman went one step further, suggesting the age limit even in its current form is un-American.

"Capitalism means that if you're 17, 18 years old and you're a geek and you want to drop out of college and invent Apple or something else, you can do it," Kohlman said. "In this country you can do that. And there's nothing stopping you from doing it. If you're an unbelievable blues singer at 17, 18, 19 years old, you can go out and make a fortune."