See if you can follow me here…
- A couple of years ago, after a mediocre freshman year at Kentucky, 6-11 Ralph Morris decided he’d be a hot shot and enter the NBA draft.
- NBA scouts thought he was overweight, played poorly, and generally not NBA material
- As a result he went undrafted.
- The NCAA let him back in, since he had never (officially) talked with an agent or gotten paid anything by anyone.
Now, according the new NBA collective bargaining agreement from a few years back, players must enter the league through the draft. They declare themselves eligible, and wait around for that phone call telling them they are rich. However, if they go undrafted, they can never re-enter another draft. They instantly become free agents. Normally this means getting invited to training camp to work out with a few teams, maybe getting signed as a bench warmer if you’re lucky, etc. Many great players enter the league in this fashion (defensive specialist Bruce Bowen of the Spurs comes to mind).
However, something very interesting is happening. Ralph Morris has gotten in shape and is playing really good ball (apparently). As a result, all he has to do is say he is interested, and he can sign with any NBA team and walk away from Kentucky – in the middle of both the NCAA and NBA seasons. Just switch. As the Yahoo article points out, “the kid just needs to say the word and he never has to wake up for another 8:30 am class.”
In other news: Morris might come in just in time to play with a leather ball again. David Stern, just made an amazing announcement that I don’t think anyone saw coming – they are going back to the leather ball, scraping the composite ball that everyone hates so much. You don’t think it had anything to do with the players union filing suit over the ball do you? Just last week the players union filed two suits. One saying that the ball was a significant change to the game made without their consent. The other stated that the new standard for calling technical fouls (that i wrote about earlier) is so severe as to constitute a new rule change, which again, the NBA is not allowed to do without consulting the players union. No word on any changes there as of yet.
Many say that David Stern has done wonderful things for basketball. That the NBA’s popularity has soured under his leadership. While that statement is an undeniable fact, i don’t agreed with the implied causality. I more agree with Mark Cuban’s observation in a recent post that the major sports leagues are largely benefiting from the increased value of sports programming. The revenue streams pouring in, and TV’s need to justify those contracts by supporting the games and stars, is inflating the value of the sports leagues. Especially since sports are one of the few bits “Tivo-proof” programming left out there.