Tim Hardaway Jr. did it on Wednesday.
Trey Burke did it this past Sunday.
Any day now, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III could be the next Michigan Wolverines to forgo the rest of their college basketball careers and enter the NBA Draft.
Many – mostly selfish, unrealistic fans – will cry that the kids are making a mistake, that they should stay in school. This way they could both have a chance to win the national championship and, better yet, get their college degrees.
First, most go to college with the idea that it will help them land good jobs.
Secondly, there is virtually no job that will allow them to become millionaires overnight – even with degrees.
Hence, when you have a chance to amass wealth legally, you do it.
It’s a no-brainer. Only an educated fool would pass up that opportunity – especially since, even if you leave school early, it doesn’t mean you can’t go back and finish up. You can. Many have done so, including Michael Jordan who earned his degree from North Carolina.
A college degree is good whether you earn it in four years or take 40 years to complete it. There’s no expiration date. With either route, at the end of the day, it’s a college degree.
Fans of some of these colleges are only thinking of themselves and their own viewing pleasure – a chance for their school to be No.1 when the dust settles on March Madness.
And if all four Wolverines returned to Ann Arbor next season, Michigan would, indeed, have a great chance to win it all.
Still, there’s no guarantee. Worse, a player’s stock could go down with a bad season. There’s even the chance of the unthinkable: a player could suffer an injury that could either derail his NBA dreams or, worst-case scenario, kill him.
That’s why you have to strike while the iron is hot. If you have done your research and due diligence, and believe you have a legit shot to be either a lottery pick or, at least, earn a guaranteed contract as a first-round pick, it’s a logical decision.
That’s clearly why Burke did the only thing he should do – bolt college for the pros after leading Michigan on a magical ride to the NCAA title game.
Burke – who averaged 18.6 points and was named college basketball player of the year – is going to be a lottery pick in the draft, according to just about all scouts and draft experts.
The 20-year-old point guard will eventually sign a multi-year, guaranteed contract for millions. He would have been crazy to come back for his junior year. He has nothing left to prove.
Plus, it’s about time he gets paid for his ability and talent. Most college players are exploited and taken advantage of. It’s one of the biggest dirty secrets in this country.
It’s an out-and-out crime that everyone in a college basketball arena is getting paid – even the people selling popcorn – except the players, the actual product.
In 2010, Louisville coach Rick Pitino earned $8.9 million on the backs of these kids. That same year, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled in a whopping $7.2 million while his players can’t even accept a free pizza or get a tattoo on the house.
Let’s not even mention that three years ago, the NCAA agreed to a 14-year, $10.8 billion TV deal for the men’s basketball tournament with CBS/Turner.
When that pie is divided, the players don’t get a single slice.
And don’t bring up a free education. It, in no way, equals the amount of money these players bring in with ticket sales, jerseys, TV rights and the such.
The bottom line remains that it’s unfair to ask players to play for free.
If it weren’t about money, the NCAA would ask the TV networks to just give them enough money to cover their expenses.
The same goes for those that bash players for wanting to get paid. They deserve that opportunity because they’ve earned it.
Sure, everybody won’t make it. Yes, some won’t get drafted and won’t become overnight millionaires. But that’s OK, too. It’s called life – taking a chance and believing in yourself.
Sadly, most of the same people who point at players and call them dumb, would do the same exact thing if they were presented with the opportunity of getting paid (well-paid) to play ball, have a dream come true.
Burke and Hardaway Jr. are smarter than fans, way smarter.