Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Basketball Life Choice

     Last night, the University of Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Kansas University Jayhawks to win the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  But don't worry, this isn't a sports post, this is a life post.  Much has been made out of the fact that Kentucky is led by mostly freshmen players, 18 or 19-year-old young men who traditionally are a little selfish or inexperiences.  This group, however, has adopted a very team-centric style of play.  The other major point with many of the players being freshman is that this massive watch has begun to see if any of them bother to come back and play another season in college or if they all choose to enter the NBA draft.
     Give me a fucking break, okay?  They're going.  All of them.  And I will tell you why.   I was listening this morning to an interview this morning with Antoine Davis, the star center for the Wildcats, and no offense to Mr. Davis, but I couldn't understand a word he was saying.  Through the mumbles and jumbles I thought I heard him say that he hadn't decided whether or not he was going into the NBA.  And that is bullshit.  I don't know Anthony Davis, and I am going to make some GIGANTIC assumptions here, and I apologize in advance if I am wrong, but he didn't seem to sound to me like the kind of guy who cared a lot about his education.  Again, I could be wrong.  But the fact that he hadn't quite mastered things like anunciation or prepositions tells me that he hasn't thought a lot about life beyond the hardwood.
     If he was dedicated to education beyond basketball I would suspect that he would be reading and writing a lot more, and if he were reading and writing a lot more I would suspect that he would be a little better at speaking.  If he wasn't planning to go directly into the NBA I wouldn't really expect him to go directly over to the part of the Superdome crown where William Wesley - a great friend of NBA superstar guys like Michael Jordan and LeBron James - and the entire Nike contingent were sitting.  Guys who are worried about they final in Chemestry 101 aren't generally that worried about hanging out with the founder of Nike.
     Then there is the coach.  I don't like John Calipari and I won't apologize for saying it.  I have never met him, but I just get an uneasy sense about the man.  One thing that he has done consistently this season is never shy away from the fact that a major part of what he does at Kentucky is prepare his players for the NBA, and he readily admits that the NBA draft is as big or bigger a goal than a national championship.  So all of these kids - six of them some are projecting - are being groomed to be NBA Draft First Round selections.  He has worked there to create essentially a breeding ground for NBA draftees, which would tend to attract the type of young man who is less interested in getting an education and more interested in the promise of the big payday in the NBA.
     Let's be honest, if you are a young man with tremendous basketball talent and you want to get a really good free education as a result of your talents, there are going to be a lot of schools that will hand you a four-year full-ride to play baskeball that are probably a lot more academically esteemed than the University of Kentucky.  Not that Kentucky is a bad school by any means, but I would suspect that the pitch you get from Stanford or Northwestern will be a lot different than the pitch Calapari is giving at Kentucky.  I am just saying.  And on the flip side, there aren't a lot of kids going to Stanford or Northwestern to win a national championship or as a pathway to the NBA Draft.
     So I guess, to borrow a phrase that has been popular recently, it is what it is.  People always make the choice that they feel is best to them. So if Antoine Davis and his Kentucky teammates feel that going one-and-done and then hoping for that big payday in the NBA is the right choice for them, then more power to them.  And it might not seem like it but I truly wish them the best and hope that they succeed mightily.  But I will be honest I feel that the odds are against them.  There are a lot more lists of the biggest NBA draft busts than there are of the biggest NBA draft successes.  But there are a lot of Northwestern grads who played basketball that are making a pretty penny.  I'm just saying.  But you do what you've gotta do, right?

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