Adam Silver is a big believer in the “right” of men (biologically speaking) to use the women’s restroom and visa versa. The pompous Silver has declared that the NBA, by which he means himself, has a role to play in teaching the rest of us “what equality looks like in a community.”
But when it comes to the right of young men to earn a living in the NBA, Silver has his doubts. Currently, the NBA imposes an age limit that prevents high school stars from moving directly into the league. They must spend a year playing college ball or, if they want to earn money, play non-NBA pro basketball.
This rule, known as “one-and-done,” is ridiculous. Young superstars gain little from just one year in college, especially considering what they could gain by playing in the NBA. College basketball programs, with a few notable exceptions like Kentucky and Duke, gain little from having players for only a year — a year in which they typically flash pro potential but don’t star in the college game (some programs may benefit, though, from the fact that potential rivals like Kentucky, Duke, et al. recruit great players and, year after year, lose them after one season). Meanwhile, NBA teams are temporarily denied the services of players they covet.
Silver has acknowledged that one-and-done isn’t working. However, though he hasn’t made up his mind, he says he’s leaning towards replacing it with “two-and-done.” In other words, young stars would have to postpone their NBA career for two years.
This change would benefit college basketball. Some pro teams might see a benefit because it would give them a larger sample size from which to judge young talent before investing their first round pick.
However, two-and-done would be grossly unfair to young basketball stars. Why should the next Lebron James, if there is one, or even the next Zach LaVine, have to spend two years in college when he could be earning big money and developing his game against top quality opposition (and teammates during practice)?
Adam Silver may think he’s got the “equality” thing down. But what about liberty? Was he absent the day they taught the subject at the University of Chicago Law School?
Come to think of it, Silver may not know as much about equality as he fancies. Both one-and-done and two-and-done have an overwhelmingly disproportionate impact on blacks. In any NBA draft, it’s almost exclusively African-American players who currently are selected after just one year in college (and who would be selected if there were no age requirement at all). White draftees, unless they are from overseas, almost invariably have played at least two years of college ball before they are drafted. They are not harmed by age restrictions.
For years, then, Silver has enforced a one-and-done rule with a disparate impact on African-Americans — a rule he admits doesn’t work (so much for a “business necessity defense”). That sounds to me like racial discrimination under prevailing law.
Does this mean that Adam Silver is a racist? Of course not; he just a hypocrite. But I think it shows he has nothing to teach us about equality.