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Thread: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

  1. #1

    Default "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Jump ball
    More high schoolers are taking the leap of faith toward NBA
    By Peter May, Globe Staff, 3/28/2004

    CHICAGO -- The talent spotters are everywhere at Moody Bible Institute's gym. They're standing against the wall, sitting on chairs, leaning over balcony railings, or simply ensconced in bleacher seats.

    They are all here for the same reason: to look at 22 high school basketball players in the Roundball Classic. The spotters have another thing in common: They represent the 29 teams of the National Basketball Association.

    They don't necessarily want to be here. Some, such as Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird, grudgingly acknowledge that high school hoopsters are now part of the necessary draft preparation, along with foreign players and, oh yes, college players. So you've got to look at the best of the best. Bird wishes it weren't so.

    "It'd be better if we didn't have to," Bird said. "We could concentrate on the colleges and the international guys. It puts a new wrinkle in this; you've got to cover it. I guess it's going to be that way until they find out it takes these guys four to five years to mature as a player. I think it will revert back to college.

    "You can't tell me these kids are better than some of the college players we have."


    That's one view. Another view, more in keeping with the times, comes from Sonny Vaccaro, who has been a fixture on the high school and college basketball scene for decades. Vaccaro runs the Roundball Classic, the high school all-star game that he started in 1965 as the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in Pittsburgh. This year's event began with practices last Monday and Tuesday, leading up to the game between East and West teams Wednesday.

    The game has gone through a few name and venue changes, and has featured a lot of big-time NBA players, with three notable exceptions: Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

    While Bird looks suspiciously on the high schoolers trying to impress the NBA decision-makers -- "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," he sniffs -- Vaccaro looks at 6-foot-11-inch Dwight Howard, 6-9 Josh Smith, and 6-7 Shaun Livingston and sees nothing but greatness.

    Vaccaro said he thinks 10 high school players will go in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft. That would be a record; the previous high was four in 2001, and only 13 have been selected in the last five years. Howard, a Kevin Garnett wannabe from Atlanta, is widely rumored to be no worse than the second overall pick. Smith, a smooth lefty from Oak Hill Academy's semi-pro feeder program, is not going to be far behind. Howard hasn't even bothered making a college commitment. Smith picked Indiana, but Mike Davis, head coach of the Hoosiers, need not worry about finding dorm space for Smith in Bloomington.

    "I feel very, very safe in the kids I know are going," Vaccaro said. "Dwight Howard and Josh Smith are going to make an impact. They are going to be all-stars."

    As for Livingston, a reed-thin point guard from Peoria, Ill., hypothetically bound for Duke, Vaccaro said, "I think Shaun Livingston will be a 10-year all-star and potential top 50 player when the game is over. I think he is brilliant."

    And the others?

    "I think this total class is the best since 1979, no doubt in my mind," Vaccaro said. "That was the greatest high school class I ever saw -- that was [Ralph] Sampson, [Dominique] Wilkins, [James] Worthy, Isiah [Thomas]. I think there were 14 of the 22 kids from that game that played for more than two years in the league."

    Back then, it wasn't like it is now. Sampson, Wilkins, Worthy, and Thomas all went on to college, with Sampson staying four years at Virginia (much to the chagrin of Red Auerbach, who tried to entice him to leave early). Instead of NBA coaches packing the gym, you'd have college coaches lining the sidelines. Back then, that was where the players were going -- to college.

    "In the old days, every school in America would come," Vaccaro said. "Jim Calhoun found two or three of his biggest players ever at Northeastern at the preliminary game in Pittsburgh. I had 250 colleges there every year, guaranteed. Now, it's evolved into this mega-thing. Now we get the pro people. But we also get owners." Indeed, the Celtics' Steve Pagliuca was there one day.

    The general manager of the Chicago Bulls is one of those pro people. John Paxson was an accomplished high school player at Archbishop Alter in Kettering, Ohio, and had already decided to attend Notre Dame when he got the invitation from Vaccaro to participate in that vaunted 1979 Roundball Classic. Byron Scott, the former Lakers star and recently deposed Nets coach, was a teammate of Paxson's that year.

    "For any high school kid, just getting the recognition to play in those kind of games was obviously very special," Paxson recalled. "I think it is for these guys, too, even if the climate has changed. Back then, we were all going to college and we didn't see each other as much as these guys do. It was a reward for something you'd done in high school. But, boy, we had some bad-looking uniforms. I forgot to mention that to Sonny. They were pinstriped -- red, white, and blue. Not very good-looking."

    Now, of course, the players are dressed to the proverbial hoop nines by Reebok, the latest sponsor of Vaccaro's game. Vaccaro has been with Nike, Asics, Adidas, Converse ("an equal opportunity exploiter," cracked Celtics personnel guru Leo Papile) and now has gotten the Stoughton, Mass., apparel/footwear collosus to back his game. In Vaccaro's mind, it's an odd partnership, only because Nike and Adidas have generally been at the forefront.

    "When I started with Nike, there was no competition," Vaccaro said "In 1977, when I left to go to Adidas, I only had to fight against Nike. Now I'm here, I'm with Reebok fighting against Nike and Adidas. When I worked for Nike and Adidas, I never saw Reebok as a competitor on this level."

    He went on, "Reebok is the most interesting one because they are the most divorced company I've ever worked with as far as being ignorant of this society. The grass roots. The high school. They made a business decision to go into properties when they took the NBA and the NFL. They went a whole different direction." Nike still has its own all-star game. Adidas has one as well. This week, the stars will be in Oklahoma City for the McDonald's All-Star Game, including New York City pro-to-be Sebastian Telfair, who couldn't make the Roundball Classic because his high school team was still playing. Then comes the Nike Hoop Summit in San Antonio over Final Four weekend, which is scheduled to highlight Howard, Telfair, and Smith against some equally talented teens from overseas. Eventually, it all comes to an end and the kids will announce in May whether they will apply for the NBA draft.

    Bird might think it will eventually go back to college, but the trend certainly seems to be going the other way. The kids don't see the ones still struggling -- the Leon Smiths and DeSagana Diops. They see last year's Rookie of the Year, Amare Stoudemire, who went from high school to the NBA. They see this year's de facto Rookie of the Year, LeBron James, be the No. 1 overall pick from high school.

    That's what they see. And they see no reason not to do the same thing.

    As Vaccaro said, who can blame them? The money is there. The contract is guaranteed.

    "If you're guaranteed," he said, "it's really pretty simple. You've got to go. And if you're as good as some of these kids, it's really a no-brainer."

    http://www.boston.com/sports/schools.../28/jump_ball/

  2. #2

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    I agree with Larry.

    I'm so tired of high schoolers jumping to the NBA, even if the Pacers do have 3 of them, who turned out to be really good.

    And I agree that JB is better than all those kids combined...The Difference can do anything--dunk, shoot 3's, mid-range shot, block, rebound, pass, post up, hit free throws, etc...

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Bender is the most talented player in the NBA, IMO. There is nobody else who can play 4 different positions and create mismatches like he does. There's also nobody else with the ability to create from anywhere on the floor like he does. If he stays inury-free and develops his mind to go with his abilities, we'll be a friggin' powerhouse. JO + JB = new Twin Towers

  4. #4

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    He's also the most talented played in the league who gets injured the most ed:
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    He's also the most talented played in the league who gets injured the most ed:
    It happens.

  6. #6

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    He's also the most talented played in the league who gets injured the most ed:
    It happens.
    It happens quite a bit
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Grant Hill is close but he's not as good an athlete. He was a better basketball player though. JB just hasn't had his chance yet.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Somebody get me a vomit sock. I think I'm going to be sick.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Is it me, or does this Vaccaro guy seem like he's got his hands in some of these High Schoolers pockets. He seems to hype them up WAY too much. Like he is their agent or something.

    But Larry's point is valid. It still takes these guys about 4 years to mature (unless your name is Lebron), then you have to give them their second contract. If your lucky enough that they don't bolt for another team. In the mean time, you are paying for them to mature and develop when they should be in college doing it.

  10. #10

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    well... I gotta agree with JO on this, if you can go fight a friggin war at 18, you can play professional basketball. To try to take that right away would borderline on illegal discriminatory business practices. How the NFL has gotten away with it is mindboggling to me. Well see how long it lasts.

    Your body is your income in sports, and 4 years of college is that much more wear and tear and not getting paid for these kids. If JO went to college he might not even be in the NBA today. 4 years of potential injuries.


    so there is that side of the argument for ya.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    well... I gotta agree with JO on this, if you can go fight a friggin war at 18, you can play professional basketball. To try to take that right away would borderline on illegal discriminatory business practices. How the NFL has gotten away with it is mindboggling to me. Well see how long it lasts.

    Your body is your income in sports, and 4 years of college is that much more wear and tear and not getting paid for these kids. If JO went to college he might not even be in the NBA today. 4 years of potential injuries.


    so there is that side of the argument for ya.
    +++++++

    But in the real world business pays for experience and education. Most won't even look at inexperienced people for anything but entry level (and pay) jobs. So why should sports be different? I have long been a proponent for a graduated pay-scale based upon years of college and/or experience. That is for the rookies first contract, after that...it's open to whatever the team wants to pay within the cap rules.
    If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..

  12. #12

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    well... I gotta agree with JO on this, if you can go fight a friggin war at 18, you can play professional basketball. To try to take that right away would borderline on illegal discriminatory business practices. How the NFL has gotten away with it is mindboggling to me. Well see how long it lasts.

    Your body is your income in sports, and 4 years of college is that much more wear and tear and not getting paid for these kids. If JO went to college he might not even be in the NBA today. 4 years of potential injuries.


    so there is that side of the argument for ya.
    +++++++

    But in the real world business pays for experience and education. Most won't even look at inexperienced people for anything but entry level (and pay) jobs. So why should sports be different? I have long been a proponent for a graduated pay-scale based upon years of college and/or experience. That is for the rookies first contract, after that...it's open to whatever the team wants to pay within the cap rules.
    geezer, I think your argument doesn't carry very much weight for the simple fact that teams ARE taking the talent out of high school. Furthermore, in the real world, business experience doesnt equate to your body wearing down, which is essential in the nba.

    While a good businessman can be a good businessman forever as long as his mind is healthy, atheletes have a short window of 10 years or so to maximize their effectiveness (except freaks like reggie or karl malone) 4 years of college takes a big chunk of that away.

    fact is, this is the USA and people have a right to make as much money as they can. I just dont see how making a minimum age requirement, (over 18) or penalizing high school draftees with lower salaries for the nba could possibly be legal, or a good thing for society at large... Let the MEN get paid to play some ball. Like JO says if you can aim a gun and kill someone for your country and get drafted... then you can play in the nba.

    Another solution would be to start paying college players... doubt that would ever go down... too much greed.

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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Somebody get me a vomit sock. I think I'm going to be sick.
    Sorry. I only have one... and it is currently in use.

    Next time I see Bender up close though, I'm going to check for nail holes in his hands, and see if the scars are visible in his scalp from the thorns.

  14. #14

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    While a good businessman can be a good businessman forever as long as his mind is healthy, atheletes have a short window of 10 years or so to maximize their effectiveness (except freaks like reggie or karl malone) 4 years of college takes a big chunk of that away.
    Well, I would have to disagree with them being freaks. All it takes is the right conditioning and taking great care of your body throughout the years. As you may be seeing, guys are still playing at older and older ages nowadays--possibly because they know how their bodies work and have a good workout/conditioning program. Maybe if high school kids went to college, they'd be able to learn some of those techniques for longer careers. I highly doubt they teach that in most high schools. Maybe high schoolers will feel the long-term effects of playing at such a high level later on in their lives...Look at Earl Campbell (different sport I know) and Bill Walton. I wonder what all these European players will be feeling like when they're 50, after playing pro basketball from age 15-35.
    [hr]
    I have altered my stance on high schoolers jumping into the NBA because of this thread. I still discriminate against them coming, but there should be, in no way, a rule preventing it. I agree with the whole "If you can handle it, go for it" thing, but I believe 99% of the time, they aren't ready for it. Hopefully, in the near future, like Larry said, guys will start to go to college more often.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    Well I for one dont like the high schoolers jumping, but dont feel they should not be allowed. I also think to many people dont like it because they want them to go to college. News flash, not every high school kid wants to or can go to college. If a kid has skills and the NBA will pay hiim, why should he be looked poorly upon because he chose not to go to college. If my son ever grew up to be a great Bball player and the NBA came calling after high school and he was going to be a lottery pick and get millions right away, i ouwld tell him do do what he wants to do. I would encourage college for the education, but lets get real he is going to make more his first year in NBA than he will ever make working a normal job like we do. What if he goes to college and blows out a knee, or is in a car crash that doesnt allow to ever play again...i know it is far fetched, but we are talking about the difference between millions and our salaries.

    I would much rather see a stronger minor league than the NBDL, something more like the minors in baseball. Where every team has a farm system to develop players where they still get paid and can develop their skills. But if someone is good enough to skip minors and go to the bigs, so be it. I think you would see an overall improvement in NBA play cause then players would truly e tested before they got to pro level.

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    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    In football (soccer) talents are scouted worldwide, clubs in certain coutries have satelite culbsin other continents and hold talent meets all over the world to find the kids aged 12 - 13 which they think have the talent to "make" it.

    These kids are invited to an organization where they practise inordinate amounts of time on basic football skills and go to the best schools, have private tutors etc. Living quarters are included and a salary is paid in escrow to the parents.

    When they turn 15 or 16 they get their first 1 or 2 year contract, again under all those same conditions, they stay with that club while getting an education and salary.

    They play for youth teams of the club and once they reach the realms of the pro teams (1st and 2nd usually, outside national youth) they will get a new contract, often if under 18 those appearances are covered under bonusses and when 18 they will get a new (usually lucrative) contract.

    A lot of money is invested in talent this way, ensuring they get a decent education, staying within the law for labour contracts etc. nonetheless (outside of salary) clubs invest enormous amounts of money in these kids.

    The NBA is in a luxury position, highschools and colleges do their job for them as far as education goes, the player or school picks up the bill for the education, the scouts pick up a bonus for finding a player and a NBA team drafts the player, or when nobody wants him in the draft, takes him up for even less and non guaranteed in summer camp.

    Now the highschool kid with a lot of talent has a chance to go for the draft, evade that costly and riskfull college career, (any chance of falling down the stairs without a guaranteed contract is silly) and get a contract that will ensure him several million dollar, while learning what he normally would go to college for in a faster program, (on the job training).

    You can never blame any kid that has the chance to go for that.

    You can not make laws preventing that, because in doing so you protect the Teams from buying a bust, but you do not protect the kid from having an injury in the meanwhile, (in college) nor do you give him a nice contract. You protect the teams from having to invest in tuition of their talents, invest in indepth scouting instead of ripe apple picking, in other words to become a business that has a long term planning instead of buying the flavour of the month.

    Teams that DO invest in highschool kids allow themselves to get a "cheaper" roster, they can stay under the cap slightly easier then others, but in due course changes of a CBA into a more free system allowing for "own growth talent" to be excluded of the CBA for instance, would also encourage more profitable business as opposed to trade for lots more and ending up in Mavs or Knicks kind of payrolls.

    In the football(soccer) example the kids go to school, take years to mature, get the best training and instructions, become complete players that have a decent value in the market, players can leave a club to go for a better contract, but the loosing club gets enormous amounts of money to make up for it, so all parties are happy.

    Everyone has a right to labour, to work when of an age eligible for the job, usually 16 or 18, so any restriction on that would be a restriction of freedom and rights, therefore unacceptable.

    Teams should realize their ideal situation with the current upbringing of talent and look towards the future, where it will be different, prepare for it instead of making rules to protect themselves along dangerous paths.

    The army will pay them and teach them how to shoot, surely the NBA who stands to make millions of a player can provide the same?
    So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

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  17. #17

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    I have a question to you guys..

    when an 18 year old kid applied for NBA draft and gets undrafted, cant he go back to school? If not the same year than the following year?


    how does the college basketball program works?


    it may be a stupid question, but I really dont know why they dont go back to school?

    cheers...

  18. #18
    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    ncaa eligibility. once you're in the draft, you can't play in the ncaa.

    a player who backs out of the draft, as long as he didn't take money from any team, can retain his eligibility.

  19. #19

    Default Re: "Jonathan Bender is better than all these kids combined," - Bird

    I believe that the way it works is that if you are in college and want to test the waters, you can stay in school so long as you don't hire an agent.

    But, if you are a high school kid, once you enter the draft, that is it. I think that is why Jamal Crawford was forced to leave Michigan, because it was found that somebody enrolled him to the NBA draft his senior year of high school.

    My stance all along is that if a kid is going to be a first round pick, getting 3 years guaranteed very high paid money and the ability to hit the free agent market early is far too valuable to pass up. As long as that door is open for high schoolers and they want to take it, who are we to tell them they shouldn't.

    My real problem is with the "experts" who tell these kids that they are 1st round material, but they might not be. They fill these kids with a lot of high hopes, but are nowhere to be found when the hopes are dashed.

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