Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apologizing for Nothing in Particular

Illegal Benefits

Anyone who thinks the story of hoops phenom O.J. Mayo allegedly taking $30,000 in illegal benefits while in high school and at USC is a sign of why the NBA's age limit rule doesn't work needs to re-examine the situation. While I agree David Stern's rule that a player must be 19 years old or have a year of college before entering the NBA Draft is flawed, this isn't why.

For proof, look no further than former USC football stud Reggie Bush, who even in the NFL has to deal with allegations he and his family took illegal benefits while he was helping the Trojans win back-to-back national titles and taking home the 2005 Heisman Trophy.

Bush wasn't a one-and-done player, and he still found himself in this mess. And what about the gifts Chris Webber took from Michigan boosters when he was a member of the Fab Five? He wasn't a one-and-done stud either.

And let's not forget former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar, who was being paid for a job at a local car dealership he wasn't doing.

High-profile college athletes taking illegal benefits from boosters and sports agencies looking to eventually represent them is nothing new, and certainly not exclusive to college hoops stars looking toward the NBA after one year. I'm not even sure I blame the kids in this so much, because let's face it: if I'm 18, 19 years old, possibly from a less-than-well-off background, and someone offers me five figures ... how hard do you think it would be for me to say no?

But USC deserves its share of the blame, for the simple fact that the school had already been through this before with Bush. When Mayo recruited himself to hoops coach Tim Floyd, the school should've done its homework (it says it did, but I don't buy it) and seen the red flags. There is no way USC didn't know what was going on, and if they didn't, there's a compliance officer who should be looking for a new job.

Let's try placing the blame in this where it belongs, eh?

Well, he's not Isiah ...

Mike D'Antoni will be announced as the new coach of the New York Knicks Tuesday afternoon, and many wonder if he's a good fit for a team that is, to put it kindly, in disarray.

While anyone is an upgrade over Isiah Thomas at this point, will D'Antoni's up-tempo offense and optional defense work with this roster? A roster that still includes Stephon Marbury, at that?

To be fair, reports are D'Antoni's first move will be to cut Marbury. If that's true, it's a good first step in the former Phoenix coach's regime. But trading in Amare Stoudamire for Eddy Curry? I apologize if I fail to see the logic in that.

Oh, wait ... four years, $24 million. That's all the logic you need right there. And as much as the Chicago Bulls would've been a better fit, since the team has actual talent, it became clear after talking to D'Antoni the Bulls didn't want him.

Apparently, Chicago wants to play defense.

D'Antoni has a chance, especially if the Knicks land a top-two draft spot and can take either Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. And the Eastern Conference being what it is, 37 wins might be good enough for the postseason (right, Atlanta?). But rebuilding the Knicks will be a long-term project, and I wonder what D'Antoni's priorities were in making this decision.

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