In an AP article by Eric Olson entitled “Abdul-Jabbar says NBA entry age should be 21,” Kareem Abdul-Jabar is quoted as proposing that the US National Basketball Association (which affects basketball Earth-wide) should enact rules that restrict players’ access to the NBA.
“They get precocious kids from high school who think they’re rock stars— ‘Where’s my $30 million?’ ” said Abdul-Jabbar, who was in Omaha to speak at the B’nai B’rith sports banquet. “The attitudes have changed, and the game has suffered because of that, and it has certainly hurt the college game.”
I agree with Mr Abdul-Jabar’s arguments. He has both the basketball experience and the intellectual chops to make this argument—way more than I do. But I have a lingering reservation. In a free-market economy, shouldn’t a skillfull young player (e.g., Lebron James or even Andrew Bynum, whom Mr. Abdul-Jabar coaches) be able to pursue a career? Would Mr. James have come out of college a more polished gem than he was after two or three years in NBA?
Karl Malone should be an obvious choice for induction into the (US) Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this coming summer. He’s the 2nd most prolific scorer in NBA history for staters. After Michael Jordan’s induction in 2009, it’s fitting that one of his greatest rivals during their careers is now eligible and should be among those inducted.
But, another candidate captures my imagination: Mr. Jordan’s teammate Scottie Pippen. Taking nothing away from Mr. Malone, I’m pleased to see Mr. Pippen among the nominees. I understand that Mr. Pippen is also an obvious choice for first-ballot induction. I simply want to note that, in my book, he’s one of the few guys who could have a chance at winning a 1-on-3 half-court game against NBA players when he’s the one. He had great defensive abilities both up and down the size scale. And he could score, too.
To be sure, there are other deserving nominees: Dennis Johnson, Oscar Schmidt, Jim Valvano, and (especially) Tex Winter. Visit the Naimsmith Hall of Fame. See Scott Howard-Cooper’s article about nominees (with a great photo of Mr. Malone and Mr. Pippen) on the NBA site.
On this day in 1960 Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 71 points in a National Basketball Association game against the New York Knicks, hitting 28 2-pointers and 15 free throws. The Lakers won 123-108 on the Knicks’ home floor, basketball mecca, Madison Square Garden.
As a pre-adolescent wanna-be basketball player who had recently moved to Los Angeles, these high-scoring events were markers. The previous year, Mr. Baylor had scored 64 points in a single game, but this 71 was something special. At the time it was, of course, the most points ever scored in an NBA game. Since then, only three players (Wilt Chamberlain, 5 times; Kobe Bryant and David Thompson once each) have ever scored more points in a game.
Later that season, I attended a game the Lakers played against the Syracuse Nationals and the great Dolph Schayes at Los Angeles State College, away from their usual home location of the LA Sports Arena. I remember the announcer introducing the starting line ups: “And, at forward, number 22, Elgin, 71-Jewel, Baylor.” I referred to the use of “jewel” in an Feb 2008 post about an article on Mr. Baylor’s career; this note serves as further explanation for that reference.
Links for the NBA’s player profile and the Hoopedia page about Mr. Baylor’s career. Link to my earlier post.
If one makes, say, the average salary of a player in major league sports (say, between $1 and $5 million in the NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL), couldn’t you pay some one a few $10K a year to review every prescribed and over-the-counter drug, supplement, or alternative medicine you considered taking so that you would know whether it would violate your league’s drug rules? I’m sorry to see that Rashard Lewis is yet another of the fallen.
Over at the Los Angeles Times, Bill Dwyre covered the ceremony about installation of a plaque honoring Elgin Baylor and Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers. In an interesting twist, the plaque is at at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a location that was chosen because it was at the neighboring Sports Arena that Mr. Baylor and Mr. West played. That’s one of the places I went to watch them play basketball when I was just discovering the game. Read Mr. Dwyre’s column under the headline “Jerry West and Elgin Baylor are together again: The two players who put the Los Angeles Lakers on the map are honored at the Coliseum.” It’s laced with good stories.