Noel’s injury brings NBA age limit debate
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
The next time David Stern gets into a discussion about age limits for the NBA, what will speak louder than Nerlens Noel’s scream?
It might swing the debate. It should. It would be hard to argue otherwise, as they wheeled Noel away Tuesday night, his knee wrecked, his future as the probable 2013 No. 1 draft pick clouded.
Bad dream, bad rule. If only it were that simple.
The teenage phenoms spend a season with college basketball because they have to, hoping and praying not to take a wrong step. Please, don’t get hurt and have everything change. But sometimes, they do. Even at Kentucky. Noel’s cry of agony apparently bounced around the Florida arena, and you could understand coach John Calipari when he said he felt sick.
This is when life seems not fair, or at least the NBA age-limit rule portion of it. Had this happened to Noel in the service of a professional employer, the pain would be no less agonizing, but the money would already be in the bank. Now, who knows?
To be sure, knees get fixed, and players come back to make enough cash to fill an oil tanker. Nerlens Noel — noted shot-swatter and 6-10 athlete — will not be without professional suitors, if Tuesday was his last Kentucky game. And he does have insurance, as allowed by the NCAA. But still, this can’t help on draft day.
The logic seems so clear. It is not right to force them into harm’s way in college at the point of a rule, when they could secure their family’s well-being with a signature. If they want to go pro, let them go pro. Tennis players do not have to wait to be 19. Violinists do not have to wait.
Nerlens Noel just become the poster player to dump the age rule.
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