Wednesday, March 9, 2016

One and undone

God bless Ben Simmons. He may not be on the Wooden Award list, but he tops the Shining The Light On The Lie list.

Simmons is the starburst freshman from LSU who might be, probably is, the best college basketball player in America. He might be the best player to come along, period, since LeBron James.

But because of the NBA's dunderheaded rule that a player has to be 19 years old before he's eligible for the NBA draft, Simmons was compelled to play along with the one-and-done charade in which players who should be in the NBA must pretend to be college students for a year, and college coaches who only recruit them as meal tickets must pretend to treat them like college students.

Simmons, of course, is no more a college student than your toddler is. He's an unpaid mercenary. He's just not supposed to act like one.

Simmons apparently has decided, "To heck with that."

If he's going to class, it's only to keep up appearances. That's why the best player in America isn't eligible for the Heisman Trophy of college basketball, because there's a provision in the Wooden Award eligibility rules that states a candidate must maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average.

It's been more than broadly hinted that Simmons' grade-point average is, um, below that. He's averaging 19.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists on the basketball floor, but off it, he's ... well, not keeping up his end of the charade.

I have to admit. The Blob kind of loves this.

The Blob loves this because it's long held that the NBA's rule is silly and unnecessary, especially because the solution to the entire situation is already in place: The Developmental League. All the NBA needs to do is treat it like a developmental league.

Which is to say, tell kids they can enter the draft straight out of high school -- but if they're drafted, they must spend their first season in the D-League. Get used to the travel and the life. Learn how to be a pro. All that.

The problem is, the League isn't inclined to do that. In too many cases, teams treat their D-League affiliates pretty much the way they treated teams in the old CBA -- i.e., as a place to stash the overflow help. Oh, they make a big show of talking about how their D-League teams are going to learn the big club's system and how the big club is going to be invested in their success, but that's the last the D-League team ever hears from them.

Well. At least until someone gets hurt and they need a body to fill the empty space on the bench.

Cut back to Simmons, the latest one-and-done and the one who, by intent or not, has laid bare the absurdity of the current system. You can say all he had to do was go to class, and that he owed it to his teammates to do so. To which the obvious response is, what teammates?

Does anyone with a firm grip on reality think a kid like Simmons is invested in any meaningful way with the LSU program? LSU is a bus stop to him. Nothing more. And that's not his fault. He's merely playing the game he and everyone else has been forced to play by the NBA's ludicrous edict.

Or not play, as the case may be.


  1. I remember Red Aeurbach's rage towards Ralph Sampson's advisers who convinced Ralph to stay at Virginia. Whatever the rules were back in the early 80s, Ralph stayed all four.
    LeBron was from a different mind-set, driving a GM Hummer while still in high school and with his mom and her man trying to get the NBA to waive all rules and let LeBron go to The League at age 16. (didn't happen). I saw LeBron play one time in the stste tourney in Toledo...most exciting high schooler ever. Physically, he could have played NBA basketball at age 16, but man...that's a tad young.

  2. Agreed. But the difference between 18 and 19 is nothing. I think Cuban's actually the guy who proposed stashing them in the D-League for a year.