In ’05, the NBA and the players’ union negotiated a new CBA, requiring that the minimum age for entry into the NBA is 19. Thus the league put an end to the joining the league straight from high school era – a move that Michael Jordan saw as the right one.
I’m a firm believer that a player should be 20 years old or older before going to the pros. Anything less than that is potentially bad. You’ve got a lot of things you have to take into consideration.Michael Jordan, Cigar Aficionado
Jordan’s argument is not solely basketball related. It’s more on a maturity note and young guys having trouble dealing with all the extra stuff that comes with being a pro athlete. From the lifestyle, handling millions of dollars, managing your newly gained celebrity status, these are all challenges a young NBA player is faced with, and spending a few years in a collegiate environment makes him more suitable for dealing with them.
It teaches him responsibility. It ramifies his interest. It plants the seed for the post-NBA era, facilitating an inevitable for every pro athlete – what’s next after my sports career is over? So long-term wise, not skipping the college step has a huge return on shaping the personality of a young basketball player. And while many believe that college is doing all of this at the expense of one’s basketball path, Jordan doesn’t agree with that.
If I had been a freshman or even a sophomore, no matter how good I was, I don’t know if I would have been ready for what I had to deal with in the professional ranks. But you got more and more young guys doing it. I am a firm believer that something is affected by leaving college early, or not going to college at all.Michael Jordan, Cigar Aficionado
And while you can look at guys like LeBron, KG, or Kobe and say that their careers weren’t affected by skipping college, most of their transition phases were. Think about it; all those guys took at least three years before they adapted to what they had to do as professional basketball players, with LeBron being the exception. Would it be better had they spent those three years in college, focusing on both sports as well as education? Yes, according to Michael. And as of ’05, yes, according to the NBA. In some sense, anyway.
That’s until ’22 since Adam Silver already announced the league is going in the direction of re-allowing high school players to come straight to the NBA, and that we are two years away from that becoming a new-old reality in the league. One thing’s for sure, Michael Jordan is not going to be happy about it.