Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Slam and the age minimum

Slam is among the critics of the NBA age limit; I've noted before that I do not understand this position. And Slam's writers haven't made it any easier for me to understand it, as they seem to refuse to take up the issue at any length.

Here is all we get in the latest issue, which (I believe) is Slam's first after the age limit was instituted. First, we get this potshot from the editor:
I can't help wondering... why a League that's largely pinning its future on guys like LeBron and Amare (who might be pretty good one of these days -- you heard it here first!) feels compelled to make sure that stories like theirs won't have encores.
It's not LeBrons and Amares the league is worried about, it's Kwames and DeSaganas. And as for the encore bit -- yes, these stories won't have encores in the narrow, formal sense. Yes, high school players will no longer be drafted, that's what the age limit is. It's not true, however, that there won't be encores in the sense of stories that are just as good as LeBron's or Amare's. Think about it: was Carmelo's story worse because he spent a year in college and led his school to the championship? Or was it better?

Then, we get this insightful comment in NOYZ: "Glad to see the CBA got figured out, but no matter how you break it down, the whole age minimum thing is still stupid..." Not even bothering with an argument there. Finally, there is the "Bargaining for Dummies" story by Lang Whitaker which has a paragraph on the age minimum but fails to note any obviously negative effects that the minimum is expected to have.

I'm not asserting that Slam writers have no argument against the age minimum; in general, they are thoughtful and knowledgeable. In fact, it is because I think they probably do have some sort of argument that I am irritated at their total failure to explain their views. In general, although I'm a big fan of Slam, I wish they would spend more time thoughtfully tackling the big issues in the game instead of writing another puff piece on a marginal player. Unfortunately, that probably puts me in a tiny minority of Slam's readers.

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