There is no literacy test to play in the NBA

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

David Stern
David Stern has taken the credit for whatever success the NBA enjoyed in its glory years.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- It would be great if there was the equivalent of the SAT's in the NBA before anyone could don shorts down to their ankles, buy a Bentley, tattoo most of their visible bodies and have a personal coiffurist set their corn rows in place. That is not to be. David Stern, the beneficiary of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird's exploits, followed by the magnificence and marketing magnetism of Michael Jordan has taken every inch of credit for whatever success the NBA enjoyed in its glory years.

Then along came Shaquille O'Neal, whose charisma gets lost in monotone responses to anything asked of him, and then Kobe Bryant, with all the talent in the world but a handicap of sullen, isolated behavior coupled with his recent legal problems.

Earvin Johnson was smart and had a smile that lit up the country from coast to coast coupled with infectious laughter. Bird's talents were undeniable, he was fairly affable, open to the media and became as real as Magic when they opted to commercialize together. Michael was, well, Michael. He was an NBA dream come true. Talent without end, smiles, a welcome mat laid out for the media (most of the time) and a recognizability equaled by very few on the planet.

The general indictment about to unfold has exceptions, but the fact of the matter is that it is all about the money. It is now, seems to be that way for the foreseeable future and is the result of David Stern and his administrative minions wearing blinders and ear plugs when it comes to the sources of their players. If they can raid the nursery at the local hospitals they will; if they can take players out of college and turn them into instant millionaires that are the nature of the business, they will; if they can garner a TV contract that keeps the sport and teams afloat then that is what it is all about.

You cannot really leave college as a freshman or sophomore and enter the NFL unless you have a death wish or deep-rooted desire to become an invalid at an early age. There are rare exceptions to entering the NHL from junior leagues but they are few and far between. It is possible to enter into professional baseball from the nethermost regions of Mexico and South America with not much more than a high school education or come out of the collegiate ranks earlier than graduation but the prospects of becoming an extra in the sequel for Bull Durham loom large.

OK, we have a 14-year old that was just captured by the world of soccer but how many more can you name like that?

When the Cleveland Cavaliers issued uniforms to some of their new players, why did a few of them contain diapers?

John Thompson
John Thompson focused on athletics, not education, while coaching at Georgetown.
Basketball is a ghetto sport, born of the playgrounds and schoolyards of this country. It is an escape, and the youth of the nation sees their heroes as rich and famous. Their scoring averages, for the most part, are higher than their IQ's. The letters that are being drafted now in response to that comment would be better sent to the office of David Stern or to the high schools in your area asking both to explain to youngsters that the funnel gets smaller and smaller all the time. The NBA is not the way out.

Being educated or intelligent in the NBA, for the most part, is a travesty. Enter Allen Iverson, graduate of the John Thompson School of Lower Learning and Education. Ask Georgetown officials how many players graduated, even attempted to finish, during his reign with that towel draped on his shoulder, and they will head for the nearest exits.

It's all about the money.

Reebok does not care whether Iverson can put two intelligent sentences together as long as the kids buy his sneakers. Welcome to capitalism.

Philadelphia is a city in denial and will shout Iverson's talents on the hardwoods but recoil in horror when you tell them he cannot lead any team to a championship, no less to the locker room or the practice facility. When Larry Brown exited, no one wanted the job. What are we missing here? It was not recoiling in horror over going to the City of Brotherly Love to enjoy the atmosphere and people. It was Iverson. Randy Ayers was a coach by default and we know how long he lasted. Chris Ford is in on an interim basis, punished Iverson for his antics and was berated by his star for doing so.

Now they are talking about trading Iverson and getting rid of The Answer that never was. The trading deadline came and went. Guess who is still suiting up in Philly? Billy King, orchestrator and choreographer of this team, says he did not try to make a trade. Right...and we do not want to see the sun and 80 degree weather daily. Enter the off-season, after the Sixers will have spent some weeks watching the playoffs or going off on vacation with their families. Photos and stats of Iverson sent everywhere with a "For Sale" sign attached.

Allen Iverson and Larry Brown
Allen Iverson and Larry Brown had a hot and cold relationship in Philadelphia. Brown may decide he again wants The Answer.
But, what is anyone willing to pay, or trade? Certainly not what the Sixers will want. He is a disruptive influence, He brings division, disorder and discontent wherever he goes. His remarks about being a team player belie his intentions to do what he wants when he wants, on or off the court, and he is focused on his own stats and standings among the league leaders. Fail to believe that and you don't know the sport or the man.

Larry Brown will call Billy King and ask, "What do you want?" He now has Rasheed Wallace, a Philadelphia product who would like to return home and he can control Iverson with promises of a championship, maybe, if he listens. He also might throw in a morsel or two to go with Wallace. So, build up Rasheed, call your old friend and take trouble away from him before Ed Snider suggests that King send his resume along with Iverson's to Detroit.

What team is desperate enough to want Iverson? Heck of a question. How to get rid of the fear factor surrounding him?

When the NCAA allowed a John Thompson to discount anything but how often a prospect could put the ball in the basket, and the NBA runs a sports machine that has a Kiddy Day Care Center with every locker room without regard to any degree of abilities above the neck area, Bentley sales will go up and intelligence down. But, in the end, for the schoolyards and playgrounds from New York to Los Angeles, does it really matter? You gotta be kidding!

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