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Teaching by Doing in the N.B.A. (Thanks, Joe D!!)

Discussion in 'Pistons and NBA' started by whatever_gong82, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. whatever_gong82

    whatever_gong82 First Round Draft Pick

    Apr 14, 2006
    Likes Received:
    June 29, 2008
    Sports of The Times
    Teaching by Doing in the N.B.A.

    Based on Joe Dumars’s deft touch as an N.B.A. executive, you might assume he had an M.B.A. His management of the Detroit Pistons has turned them into a powerhouse team that advanced to the last six Eastern Conference finals.

    Truth is, Dumars, until May, never earned a college degree: life — and pro basketball — intervened. For more than two decades he was like a lot of other pro athletes in that he did not seal the college deal.

    It began to weigh on his conscience. How could he preach the gospel of education to his children? How could he tell young N.B.A. players about the value of an education when he had not completed course work for his own degree?

    “Not having the degree was a void that I simply had to fill,” Dumars wrote in an e-mail message. “My wife has her master’s in education, and we’ve always stressed the importance of education to our two teenage kids. I just felt if I was going to stress the importance of education, I had to show them exactly how important it was.”

    So he completed the work. And last month his name was called along with more than 700 other graduates at McNeese State University’s spring commencement ceremony.

    He said that earning the degree, a bachelor’s in business management, was one of his greatest accomplishments. That’s saying a lot.

    Dumars played with the Pistons for 14 seasons. He appeared in three N.B.A. finals and won two championships. He was the most valuable player in the 1989 finals. He retired as the Pistons’ top career 3-point shooter and second-best scorer. In 2006 he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

    He had made his money, had a great career. Why go back? This is a question facing a lot of young athletes after they sign pro contracts: What’s the point?

    In a sense, Dumars is living proof that you don’t need a degree to run a professional franchise. As the Pistons’ president of basketball operations beginning after the 1999-2000 season, Dumars built Detroit into a perennial power. But the absence of a degree irked him.

    “Completing my degree is something I always wanted to do for my parents, for my family and for myself,” he said.

    In the N.B.A. draft on Thursday, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time. Five of the first seven players selected were freshmen, also a first.

    The N.B.A. can spin that any way it pleases, but it exposes a disconnect. Most of these young players, forced to attend college because of the N.B.A.’s minimum age requirement (19) and its condition that eligible players be at least a year removed from high school, are not close to graduating and probably aren’t thinking about going back.

    Eric Gordon, selected seventh by the Los Angeles Clippers, is one player who is thinking about going back. Gordon, a guard from Indiana University, said he planned to take courses each summer until he graduates.

    Gordon says the N.B.A. should keep the one-year rule. “I don’t think there’ll be a class like this probably for a while where they’ll have this many freshmen coming out and be lottery picks,” he said.

    He also said he didn’t think playing in Europe was better for a high school graduate than spending an obligatory year in college. “College would be better,” he said, “because you’ll have a chance to fall back on something besides just basketball, because basketball’s going to end at some point.”

    One year in college isn’t the answer either, and a growing number of people inside the lawyer-run N.B.A. know it.

    They know, as Dumars came to understand, that it’s fine to have photo ops in which players read books to young people. But how can you preach the value of an education if you don’t value it enough to return to college to finish what you began?

    That’s the question Dumars began to ask himself a few years ago, and it bothered him.

    Dumars’s dogged pursuit of his degree will hopefully prompt other young athletes to earn theirs. The relationship between the star athlete and education is changing. “You can always go back to school,” said O. J. Mayo, a former Southern California guard now with the Memphis Grizzlies. “Institutions will always be around. Now it’s getting to the point where you can take classes on the Internet.”

    That’s what Dumars did. He was able to complete his academic requirements through e-learning.

    The number of courses offered by McNeese State through the Internet has increased in recent years. They accommodate students who want to finish their degrees but aren’t able to attend classes. Dumars worked with Dr. Mitchell Adrian, the dean of the college of business at McNeese State.

    Beginning immediately, scrupulous agents should insist that as a condition of taking them on as clients, athletes should be willing to take courses toward a degree within three years of signing their first contract.

    Commissioner David Stern was ferocious in the pursuit of a minimum-age limit. If the N.B.A. really cares about the long-term welfare of its young incoming athletes, it will push for a rule that makes young players move without the ball toward a degree.

    Call it the Dumars rule: better late than never at all.

    E-mail: wcr@nytimes.com

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
  2. Latinoking90

    Latinoking90 Bench Warmer

    Jun 22, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Nice Job Joe :graduate:
  3. bricalz

    bricalz First Round Draft Pick

    Sep 1, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Cebu City, Philippines
    Still showing class Joe, nice.

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