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.
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.
http://www.spursreport.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=56433 (Stern dismayed by NBA player development system)
Stern dismayed by NBA player development system
By Chris Sheridan
DALLAS -- Commissioner David Stern is appalled by the state of the game.
Not the NBA game, mind you, but the game as it is played by a significant percentage of young Americans who aspire to make it into Stern's league.
There is something totally wrong with the development system for young basketball players," Stern said Friday at his annual NBA Finals news conference. "It historically has not been the place for professional leagues to do [something about] it, but on the basis of the consistent failures of everyone else to do it, we are at least thinking about it, and we'll be getting some dialogue with some interested parties to see if there's something that can be done here."
The subject came up at a Finals in which the Dallas Mavericks have become the first NBA team since the Houston Rockets a decade ago to be led into the championship round by a foreign-born player.
International players are flooding the league and now make up almost 20 percent of the NBA's player population, and scouts are increasingly turning to Europe and South America to find young players who have been developed with a focus on fundamentals rather than flash.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich summed it up recently by noting how his team usually has a choice on draft night between picking an American player who has been coddled by sneaker companies throughout his teenage years and a foreign player who has spent six or more years playing for his country's national program. And as we've seen with San Antonio's recent drafting patterns, the Spurs have been making the latter choice nearly every time.
NBA officials first broached the subject with other interested parties last winter at a meeting in Chicago that included: officials from Nike; current and former college coaches Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and George Raveling; NCAA president Myles Brand; and representatives from AAU programs. A follow-up meeting was held recently, but no consensus has emerged as to how to address a problem that has been festering over the past two decades.
Twenty years ago, players typically honed their basketball and life management skills in college, then came into the NBA in their early 20s. Nowadays, however, the best American players are often identified before they even reach high school, and sneaker companies and AAU coaches often have a greater influence on those players than their high school coaches and hometown mentors. The end result has been a generation of players entering the league with enormous skills and potential -- but with a lack of comprehension of many of the intricacies of the game that are so important at the highest level.
"The roster of NBA teams is going to be enriched by huge numbers of international players, and it's going to happen," Stern said. "But I also believe that the production of American players and their development is going to go through a renaissance. If we have to fuel it ourselves, OK. Maybe we're viewing it as our obligation to become involved in something we never wanted to touch because it was both unpleasant and possibly deleterious to their academic health, but we're talking about it internally."
Incoming deputy commissioner Adam Silver expounded on Stern's statements in an interview with ESPN.com.
"As David said, from a college and NBA standpoint, it's often too late -- by the time the rules allow us to first engage the players -- to do anything in terms of skills and personal development," Silver said. "There's a morass of rules, some Byzantine, that we're just beginning to understand. We've never done that kind of a thorough investigation into the layered rules and don't yet have an understanding of what we could do, or what others could do.
"We're not as concerned that we get involved, as long as there's a system that produces American players that can compete at the highest levels by the time they're of NBA age. That's what our concern is," Silver said. "We just don't want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend [that] somehow players will arrive miraculously as fully developed adults when there's a screwed-up system all along the way."
It is what it is -- Bruce Bowen
When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks.-- Bill Walton
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