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Friday, June 26, 2009
Catching Up with Links

* Brandon Jennings, a 19-year-old who earned over a million dollars playing basketball in Italy last season, was drafted 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in last night's NBA draft, ahead of a number of high-profile college players. Significance? Some believed that Jennings risked hurting his draft status by playing abroad and away from the TV coverage that players receive at top college programs. I never found that concern particularly persuasive, since NBA teams regularly scout Europe and other parts of the globe, and I presume teams are most interested in drafting the best available player or the player best fitting team needs--rather than the most well-known player (and fans' recognition of drafted players didn't help the Cavs after drafting Trajan Langdon at #11 in 1999 or the Bobcats after drafting Adam Morrison at #3 in 2006 or the Nets after drafting Ed O'Bannon at #9 in 1995 etc.). For more on Jennings, see Jeff Goodman's "Jennings' Experiment Pays Off."

* Steve Wieberg and Marlen Garcia have an interesting piece connecting the "one and done" phenomenon of college basketball (where a player attends college for one year in order to satisfy the NBA's eligibility restriction) and corruption at several marquee college programs.

* Contained within the seemingly ubiquitous coverage of Michael Jackson's death, Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has a good feature on a chain of events that began in 1985 with the Sullivan Family, which owned the Patriots, financing Jackson's "Victory" tour and ended with Bob Kraft buying the Patriots (which in turn lead to Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, and three super bowls).

* Jeff Levine has a good piece on the Biz of Hockey on the Coyotes/NHL recent litigation.



I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan of the attention you've been giving to Brandon Jennings' European adventure. I can't understand why some pundits have been knocking Jennings' decision since it seemed like an awfully mature decision given his circumstances.

Though it's probably not for everyone, the move definitely paid off for Jennings. First off, for a kid from Compton who needed the cash and to help support his family, he got over a cool million to play, sponsorship money from Under Armour and, most likely, a paid place to live in Europe. He's not yet set for life but he's got a great financial head start.

Secondly, he got to experience foreign cultures first hand and see how grown men of different backgrounds interacted on a professional team. If you think the rivalry between East Coast and West Coast players is bad, you should try playing with - as Jennings did - with Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, North Americans and South Americans. I would consider myself relatively mature but even I had some first hand lessons in cultural sensitivity while living in Europe for the past 1.5 years.

As for the issue of playing time, it's true that Jennings didn't play a whole lot but he got to experience the Euroleague first hand. The pressure of playing in front of those crowds is arguably more intense than any pressure that he would have faced at the NCAAs.

There may be some lingering questions about Brandon Jennings' maturity (and Bill Duffy's odd suggestion for Jennings to skip the green room and then reappear after being drafted certainly didn't help) but from what I can see Jennings got professional coaching, international experience and financial security for the measly cost of one year - a year that David Stern had needlessly taken from Jennings anyway (a probably top-10 pick even a year ago).

If I was an agent faced with a determined high school kid with mediocre grades and a desire for financial security prior to an NBA payday, I would be on the phone with Euroleague teams immediately. The worst case scenario is that the kid gets hurt but, if that is the concern, wouldn't DeJuan Blair be more of a cautionary tale?

Blair tore both ACLs in high school but recovered and had a fine career at Pitt. However, a reaggravation of the injury this past year certainly didn't help his draft stock and now he's got a non-guaranteed contract with the Spurs. He's lucky to be with a fine organization that needs him but either way he's now essentially at the mercy of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich.

In short, I'm glad Jennings got draft top-10 and proved the financial viability of the "Eurotrip" model. Maybe this will finally put an end to the sham of the age floor and the enforced (allegedly) paid "education" of one-and-done players like Derrick Rose.

I'm sure you've already mentioned all of this in your previous posts but I just wanted to share my thoughts with you and congratulate you on picking up on the Jennings story far earlier than most of the mainstream media.


Anonymous Jason Chung -- 6/27/2009 5:20 PM  


Thanks for your terrific comments. You raise an excellent point about DeJuan Blair and the monetary loss he suffered (at least at this point in his career) as a result of the knee injury -- he is, as you note, just as much of a cautionary tale as any player who is deemed to have left school too early.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 6/28/2009 9:33 PM  

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