Age before beauty
Players young and old set to give NBA age limit
Posted: By Marty Burns; Friday March 4, 2005 1:09PM; Updated: Friday March 4, 2005 1:09PM
The NBA's Romper Room could soon be closing down. The league and its players seem to be nearing agreement on a minimum age limit of 20, which could go into effect as soon as next season. The exact terms still have to be negotiated as part of the upcoming new labor agreement, but the consensus around the league is that it will get done.
Had the age limit proposed by the NBA been in effect now, Orlando's Dwight Howard wouldn't have made his pro debut until 2006.
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
"It's going to happen," agent Bill Duffy said. "There appears to be enough bilateral support now."
Concerned about the flood of high school and college underclassmen flowing into the pro ranks in recent years, NBA commissioner David Stern has long supported a minimum age limit of 20. However, the league could not unilaterally impose the restriction; it had to be part of the labor agreement, and the players association was always opposed.
But now there seems to be a feeling among many players that maybe it's not such a bad idea. For one, the old guard is losing jobs to the teen brigade. For another, the youngsters in too many cases just aren't ready to play. "I don't look at [an age limit] as a bad thing," Sonics guard Ray Allen said at last month's All-Star weekend. "I think we're helping out younger guys, not hurting them."
The shift in position by many players in itself doesn't guarantee a deal will get done. The players association continues to view an age limit as a concession, one that will have to be negotiated over the bargaining table. In other words, the NBA might have to give up something to get it done. But if Stern wants it bad enough, he should be able to make it happen.
Meanwhile, mere talk of a limit could lead to an onslaught of high school kids or college frosh into this year's draft. Last year 13 high school kids declared (four withdrew), and some believe even more could declare this year as kids who don't want to go to college try to beat the impending deadline. "I think some are going to look at it more closely now," Duffy said.