Dwight Howard never did it. Neither did Kobe Bryant, Rashard Lewis nor Andrew Bynum.
The foursome never went to college, instead jumping straight from high school to the NBA — when such things were allowed. Now all four are starting in the NBA finals.
Howard, Bryant and Lewis are all-stars. Throw in LeBron James of the Cavaliers, who made it to the Eastern Conference finals, and three of the most marketable and most recognizable players in the NBA have never taken one college course.
These playoffs show there is no bigger indictment for the league rule that now requires American players to be at least 19 years old and a year out of high school before they can enter the draft.
The one-and-done rule simply has to go.
“Some people bloom before others,” said Magic point guard Courtney Lee, one of the rare players who benefited from four years in college. “I don’t see why you would hold players back who are ready to go to the NBA. You see Dwight and LeBron. They’re superstars today.”
And if Lee had the same talent as Dwight or LeBron? Before the sentence is finished, Lee makes the motion of an airplane lifting off and says, “Zoooooooooooooooom!”
Lee needed college in order to better himself. Howard, Bryant and James did not. Forcing players to attend school when they have no interest in it has been a complete disaster. The NBA adopted the new rule in 2006 because it wanted to give players the opportunity to be more polished and mature before they turned pro.
Instead, the rule change has been a disaster. Look no further than Memphis, USC and Ohio State, to name three. Those programs have gotten into trouble with the NCAA because of issues with several one-and-done players.
Memphis is being investigated over claims that someone took the SAT for a player on the 2007-08 Final Four team, a player widely reported to be Derrick Rose. O.J. Mayo has denied allegations that he took gifts and cash from an agent’s runner while at USC in his lone season there. Earlier this week, USC coach Tim Floyd resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Meanwhile, Ohio State lost two scholarships after one-and-done players Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos left school for the NBA in 2007 without finishing their third-quarter term.
“I don’t like the one-and-done,” Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said Thursday. “I don’t understand how we get away with that as a league, that we tell a guy out of high school he can’t come and play in our league.
“Kids should be going to college if at least part of what they want to do is get an education. The way it’s set up on these one-and-done. . . . To me, it’s a sham.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski agrees. He said earlier this week on The Dan Patrick Show “a school can’t be an extended stay hotel.”
It’s pointless to force someone into doing something they have no interest in doing. Now you see kids going straight from high school to playing overseas, bypassing college completely. Clearly, the NBA never intended for that to happen when it passed this rule.
When the collective-bargaining agreement comes up for renewal in 2011, this issue must be addressed.