MERNAGH: NOEL LATEST EXAMPLE OF WHY NBA NEEDS TO STEP UP
Sad day today. Thoughts go out to Nerlens Noel. I hope he can return and get back to the form that will allow him to see the millions of dollars he’s now no doubt worrying about never making. Terrible situation.
For those of you unaware, Noel’s knee buckled and slammed into the basket support in Gainesville last night after he chased down a sure layup and turned it into another block. Noel’s been a defensive shot-blocking extraordinaire seemingly since he came out of the womb. It’s what he was put here to do –block shots.
I distinctly remember watching Noel in Orlando a few years back while in the company of a former Big East head coach with strong ties to the Massachusetts area and the BABC travel team Noel was competing for. The conversation centered on the injury history the young kid had already suffered through up to that point, and how he was finally healthy and was starting to become a monster. The coach wisely predicted, before I’d heard anyone else speak on the topic, that Noel would –barring another injury — probably reclassify up and join the High Major world sooner rather than later.
People get angry when folks talk about the worth of these kids in money terms, and the risks that they’re taking when they play for no compensation other than the college tuition and room and board they receive (stop laughing) for the 9-10 months they spend on campus.
Noel is an example of why they shouldn’t get angry but get real. The NBA needs to grow some onions and take responsibility. If they think a kid isn’t ready out of high school I’ve got an idea for them…don’t freaking draft him! Let another team miss on him if they aren’t good enough at their job to see it. You think he’s too good not to take a chance on him? Pull the trigger and draft him. Big boy world. Big boy money. Put your big boy pants on and make a decision.
Simply do your job already and set these kids — the handful every 3-5 years that are capable of earning NBA dollars at 18 instead of 19 — free of the college charade they’re forced to endure while hoping against hope that they don’t go down in screaming pain like Noel did last night.
You know what I noticed about the broadcast following Noel’s injury?
How quickly the announcers in Gainesville regained their enthusiasm.
How the road crowd that was so quiet started to roar again.
How the network kept pumping out previews of games to come in the next few hours and days.
Those announcers are flying somewhere else today or tomorrow, and one of them is doing it on a private plane because he’s been so successful “talking” about the abilities of kids like Noel for the past 30 years. The people in the arena will show up again with the tickets they pay really good money for. The coaches will fly elsewhere today or tonight and recruit kids they hope and pray will be as good as Noel so their contracts can be extended yet again. So they can throw another $5-10 million into the retirement plan.
Judging from the look of the situation, he’ll probably be getting cut on at a hospital in the next 48 hours (hope that isn’t the case, but it looked dire).
And maybe 3-5 kids in the “amateur” world of NCAA football and basketball will reflect on what happened and take a few deep breaths. Here’s hoping their parents or the folks looking out for them might have a talk with them about their situations and maybe some alternatives. And God forbid if they make decisions in their best interests. Because then people like the man on the private plane will do something in his best interest and start to kick and scream about it.
Everybody gets paid.
The real talent? They just have to wait about 30-40 games while the NBA GM’s get to evaluate them some more. And hope they don’t get injured.
Quite simply…that’s just wrong.
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