Should NBA heed advice, up minimum age to 21?

May 17, 2010

Age doesn't define maturity

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's heart was in the right place when he urged the NBA to raise its age minimum to 21. It is good advice for many players — who are often ill advised — to wait to take the professional leap.

But by no means should it be mandated.

Maturity and talent can't be defined by age. Waiting for Kobe Bryant to turn 21 would have meant missing out on his first championship while he toiled away on a developmental league team. Waiting for LeBron James to reach the drinking age while he made college opponents look like preschoolers would have been a waste of time — for him and for fans.

Adults shouldn't be kept from earning a paycheck. Why is there never a fuss about hockey, tennis and baseball players making a living through sports at young ages?

Let's leave it to the NBA executives and the players to decide who's ready.

And let's hope Abdul-Jabbar doesn't suggest a goggle rule next.

No turning back clock

Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

Sure. And the league should reduce the schedule to 50 games, get salaries under control, bring back 50-cent hot dogs and enforce traveling rules. Pollyanna has left the building. And the peach basket is not coming back.

Next thing you know, Kareem will start espousing how fans should prefer the sky hook to the slam dunk.

Just pushing the limit to 19 was a monumental challenge, and in the midst of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, the league and union have far greater concerns (read: dollars).

The one thing the Kobes and LeBrons and Garnetts have shown is that maturity has far more components than chronological age.

Put it this way: Michael Beasley turned 21 in January. Would you define him as the portrait of maturity?

Out of touch with reality

Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

Uh, Kareem, that's a groovy idea. You must have thought of that while relaxing in a hot-tub time machine.

If you can get the NBA to agree to a minimum age requirement of 21, can you push to bring back 8-track tapes, "My Three Sons" and pay phones?

I'm all for it, even though I've had the pleasure of watching Dwight Howard play in the league since he was, what, 14?

Kareem is right: It makes so much sense to bring more fully formed adults into the league. The current age limit is 19, turning college basketball into a one-and-done halfway house.

The reality? Can't ever see the league requiring two forms of ID to prove you're 21. Despite having enough knuckleheads to babysit, David Stern witnessed what the birth of baby LeBron meant to the NBA at 18. (And it was good.)

Can't limit individual rights

Lisa Dillman

Los Angeles Times

Sorry, Kareem. Even Mike Krzyzewski is not with you on this one, and we all should be guided in life by the greater wisdom and vision of Duke's coach.

It may sound high-minded and the right thing to do, but you simply cannot turn back the clock, limiting the rights of an individual to earn a living. (Just envision a posse of lawyers ready and willing to take on that challenge.)

Think about those who made the leap straight out of high school — Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett — and how Lakers history might have been rewritten had Kobe played for Coach K.

Of course, there are many more cautionary tales, sad sagas of those who stumbled and failed. But there's a significant difference between the jump right out of high school and making, as Abdul-Jabbar suggested, the minimum age 21.

By the way, what did Kobe do at 21? He won his first championship ring with the Lakers.

In his fourth NBA season. Or you could call it his senior year.

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