NBA age requirement nothing but cash

By Tyler Davis

How rare is it someone wanting to work and earn a paycheck is denied that opportunity? In what field is it okay for an 18 or 19-year-old to be barred from their natural duty of employment? 

Just one field, professional athletics, puts restrictions on legal adults’ ability to work.

The NBA has been scrutinized lately for discussing a rule change requiring potential players to be two years removed from high school before getting a shot to play in the league. The current rule is players must be one year removed from high school.


New NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in multiple interviews that he hopes to push the minimum age of the league from 19 to 20 in an effort to create “more polished and professional talent.”

While it is hard to argue against more education, it is fundamentally wrong to disallow people from working when they are willing and able. A college education is important in today’s society, but these young men are legal adults. They have the right to choose what is best for themselves and their families.

Silver criticized the “one-and-done” players who run rampant in college basketball. “One-and-done” is a term that refers to college players who enter the NBA draft after completing their freshman year of college. The number of freshmen taken in the first round of the NBA draft, which used to be a rarity, is higher than ever. There were six freshmen in 2010, five in 2011, seven in 2012 and five in 2013.

“We believe the additional year of maturity would be meaningful,” Silver said in a February interview with USA Today. “Talking to a lot of my college coaching friends and college (athletic director) friends, their view is (that) one-and-done is a disaster.”

Those who favor the increase in the minimum age hope to create an NBA with better professionalism and what they feel is a better product on and off the court. Silver and other big basketball names, such as Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim, said the age change would only help players in the long-term.

If the league were to impose the second increase in less than 10 years, players would have options for how they spend those two years away from high school. They could go to college for two years, go overseas and play in foreign professional leagues, take a year off from organized basketball or try out for the NBA Development League.

Silver and his cohorts would hope players would choose to stay in college. However, some successful NBA players, such as Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings, have bypassed campus life for paychecks from European teams.


While another year of higher education does not sound like a bad thing, it is the principle of the message that is bothersome. Taking away a man’s right to work sounds asinine no matter the circumstances. Especially when players claim they need the money, as St. John University’s Jakarr Sampson and University of Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier have said, according to NBC reports.

College is an expensive journey and scholarships certainly help. Many players who make it to the NBA receive scholarships, but why should people be required to spend money when they can make money? Do we want our players going overseas and learning a different style of game by themselves? We’re worried about wealthy 19 year olds in the U.S., but imagine the trouble a young person could get into with boatloads of money in a foreign country.

Besides, the argument the NCAA creates better players is yet to be proven. The number of busts who stay in college is just as high as it is for high school stars. In fact, some of the best players of the last 20 years have come straight out of high school and turned out to be some of the league’s more mature players (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson).

I will admit the one-and-done concept is frustrating. This year’s edition of March Madness has been particularly competitive, so to see the nation’s best players bolt for the NBA is a little disheartening. However, when considering the only people who do not benefit financially from extra time as a student are the student athletes themselves, all sentimental feelings toward the NCAA are lost.

Of course the NCAA, who works closely with the NBA on this matter, favors a high draft limit. What do they have to lose? More players sticking around means more billions for them.

If the NBA chooses to make players wait to get paid, it should figure out a way to compensate these players for doing what the league demands. We all know the NCAA and NBA do not want to give college kids paychecks. So what’s the solution?

It’s quite simple, actually. If the men are good enough to play, let them play.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter at TDavis_DE, or at 539-3311 ext. 269.