Go Pro, Young ManOctober 10th, 2007 by Damon
The last month has been a bad one for last year’s star 7-foot freshmen: Greg Oden has had knee surgery, Spencer Hawes has been scheduled for knee surgery, and Brook Lopez has been declared academically ineligible for the first part of the season. Meanwhile, one-time surefire 1st round pick and current 1st round age limit casualty Bill Walker struggles to recover his trademark explosiveness after having his ACL fixed. Had he been born a year earlier, he’d be rehabbing on the dime of an NBA club, with another couple years of guaranteed pay ahead of him. Sort of like prep-to-pro Robert Swift, who’s been paid handsomely to recover from knee surgery, or Swift’s classmate Shaun Livingston, who may never play again but who can now afford decades of tuition payments.
Don’t fret, Shaun. You have a guaranteed contract. That’s even better than AFLAC!
The lesson, college stars? Don’t believe the hype—unless the hype is that you’re a consensus first-round pick. And as soon as that’s the case, get out. You’re always warned about the snackers looking for a slice of your NBA pie–agents, entourages, etc.–but don’t forget about their more established counterparts, the suit-and-tie, stay-in-school faction. Remember: all those folks in the broadcast booths and press rows make money on you staying in college. Your coach makes money on you staying in college. People will tell you to stay when you don’t need to. And a lot of them are just blowhards who get off on telling a kid that he’s gotta pay his dues.
The odds that an extra year in school will make the difference between NBA sink and swim are pretty slim; talent and hard work generally do the trick. (In fact, preps-to-pros have been the most successful of any group of draftees.) So when you get the chance to be financially set for life, you’d be wise to take it. Because while Dickie V. will ejaculate your praises to the tune of a lucrative DiGiornio’s endorsement deal (for him, not you), he ain’t gonna fill your coffers if your knee goes crunch.
I’m eating your lunch, baby!