Legendary NBA player believes young players ruining the game today


spencer-haywood-sonicsFormer NBA player, legendary Spencer Haywood believes that young NCAA players who enter the NBA only after one year in college, ruin the game.

“The one-and-done rule has to go. The game is suffering as a result of it. It’s become painfully apparent that over the last several years that these players aren’t ready from a mental and physical standpoint to compete on a daily basis at the highest level of professional basketball,” Haywood wrote in NY Daily News.

A beast on the court with career averages (NBA and ABA, combined) of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, Haywood is perhaps more famous for his impact on the game off-the-court for a 1970 legal test case that opened the NBA to undergraduate college players.

“When the Supreme Court ruled in my favor in 1971, allowing underclassmen to enter the NBA, the landscape of basketball changed forever. But people forget as a freshman, I won an Olympic gold medal in 1968, setting the record for most points (a record that Kevin Durant broke in 2012) and as a sophomore at the University of Detroit, I was first team All-American (33 points, 23 rebounds),” Haywood wrote.

He went on to say that he jumped to the ABA in what would have been my junior year and won the ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP honors with the Denver Rockets.

“I had a fair amount of seasoning before I challenged the system. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the rigors of the NBA on and off the court after my freshman year,” he said. “The NBA is now strewn with underclassmen, most notably players who have left after their freshman year, who have yet to make a significant impact.”

Haywood brought up several examples – Anthony Bennett, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Steven Adams, Shabazz Muhammad, who were selected among top 15 overall picks.

“How many are difference-makers for their respective teams? None. How many are averaging double digits in points and minutes? None,” he said.

Yet, Haywood says time will tell whether these players will have meaningful NBA careers, adding that it would’ve been better that they stayed in college for at least one more year.

spencer-haywood“The first 30 years after the court ruled in my case, there were only three players who came out of high school early: Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby. Moses bounced around a few teams before becoming an all-time great, but Dawkins had a stagnant, underwhelming career because he wasn’t trained well enough and Willoughby had a marginal eight-year career with six teams,” Haywood said.

“If you look at the current generation of players from Kevin Garnett to Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard, only one player was able to make an immediate impact right out of high school — LeBron James,” he said.

“The NBA is a man’s league. The transition from college to the NBA is huge, on and off the court. The players are faster, stronger and smarter. You’re playing an 82-game schedule, not to mention preseason and if you’re lucky, the playoffs,” Haywood said.

“Suddenly, you’re a teenager going up against the likes of James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George — all men — on a nightly basis,” he said. “One and done players need the extra year to successfully transition off the court, too. A lot of these players are still acquiring life skills: Critical thinking, time and money management, self-discipline, moderation and so on.”

Haywood said he has spoken at the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program numerous times and seen firsthand that the majority of these players have never opened a checking account.

“Yet these are the same players who get inundated with investment offers and financial advice, not to mention not having a good understanding of the tax ramifications of their newfound riches,” he says.

“I look at the underclassman currently getting all of the headlines, players such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, and I enjoy the hype like everyone else, particularly Wiggins, but man, NBA players will break him down physically. He’s not ready for the NBA. Not now. Another year at Kansas would allow his game and his body to continue to develop,” Haywood wrote.

spencer-haywood-lakers“I watch Parker and see a player who has the body and the game of an NBA player, but one more year at Duke with Mike Krzyzewski would solidify his career for the rest of his life. Development happens over time; it’s not instant.”

Haywood underscored that for the good of the game at all levels – NBA, NCAA, high school and AAU — the one and done rule must be changed.

“Our players must be prepared in all phases. And they are not currently prepared. As a result, the quality of the product on the floor is affected,” he said.

“It is a reality check. Let’s not kid ourselves. We are destroying the great game that everybody built. You can’t say, “Hey, let’s let the kids run it now,” because the kids aren’t all right — at least not yet,” Haywood wrote.

Spencer Haywood turned pro after his sophomore season at the University of Detroit, joining the ABA before jumping to the NBA the following season.

Seattle SuperSonics owner Sam Schulman signed Haywood to a six-year, $1.5 million contract, ignoring the NBA’s rule that a player could not join the NBA until he was four years out of high school. As a result, the NBA threatened to disallow the contract and implement sanctions against the SuperSonics.

Haywood sued the NBA and on March 1, 1971, the Supreme Court upheld a District Court ruling allowing players to leave early, paving the way for the One & Done Generation.

Haywood was a 5-time NBA All-Star, who played both in the NBA and ABA. He appeared in 84 ABA games, averaging 30 ppg and 19.5 rpg.

In the NBA, Haywood played 760 games, holding career averages of 19.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg. Overall, Haywood played 844 games (ABA, NBA), averaging 20.3 ppg and 10.3 rpg in 34.8 mpg.

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