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Old 06-11-06, 10:22 PM
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Stern Is Concerned About Exploitation of Athletes

Commissioner Is Concerned About Exploitation of Athletes

By Mike Wise and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 10, 2006; E03

DALLAS, June -- David Stern has always been frustrated with street agents, AAU summer leagues and nonexistent high schools for basketball phenoms infiltrating and poisoning the game.

But like a college coach unable to contact a prospect during certain periods of the year because of NCAA regulations -- while other outside influences are allowed -- the NBA commissioner felt helpless.

No more.

Stern said Friday during his state-of-the-game address at the NBA Finals that the league is looking into the possibility of supporting educational institutions that cater to future NBA prospects.

"We have just begun the dialogue about whether, in fact, we should try to support academies or schools or something because if we know who our players are going to be, and it seems that everyone else knows . . . " Stern said, adding street runners, AAU teams and apparel-run camps are often exposed to the youngsters long before colleges or the NBA could possibly advise them on their future.

"It just strikes us that there is something out of whack that these world-class athletes get exploited and exposed all the way up," Stern said. "Is there a way, without compromising their eligibility or something, that we can become more involved in helping them out?"

Stern continued, taking dead aim at an industry of playground child-watchers. "There's something totally wrong with the developmental system for young basketball players," he said. "It historically has not been the place for professional leagues to do it, but on the basis of the consistent failures of everyone else to do it, we are at least thinking about it."

Stern also said the league plans to discuss possible blood testing with the players union in light of the recent revelations by Jason Grimsley about the use of human growth hormone in Major League Baseball.

"This is a subject where we and our players are not on opposite sides," Stern said.
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