Jeff Pearlman

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Here at jeffpearlman.com, where dreams come true and bribes are accepted, I like having up-and-comers speak their mind. Hence, Yaron Weitzman—a junior at NYU, an aspiring journalist and the pride of New Rochelle—has been contributing his weekly thoughts

I don’t always agree with Jason Whitlock, but I think he has come up with a great idea on how the NBA can truly solve the Gilbert Arenas issue. In his latest foxsports.com column, Whitlock writes that the David Stern and the NBA should be using the Arenas debacle as “leverage to pursue long-term solutions.” These solutions include enticing NCAA schools to offer some semblance of a professional sports major, so to allow its future players the opportunity to become educated in their future professions, as well as implementing a wage scale that rewards players who graduated from college before entering the NBA.

I think Whitlock’s ideas are brilliant.

The biggest issue I have with whole Gilbert Arenas fiasco was not that he brought guns into a locker room (not that that wasn’t a problem—is there another profession in the world aside from the NBA where an employee can bring a gun into work and not automatically be fired?), but that Arenas seemed to have zero comprehension of the fact that he had done something completely inexcusable. Cleary Arenas, and many of the NBA players, are clueless as to how the NBA runs as a business, and ignorant to the fact that the only reason they are able to make their millions of dollars is because of the NBA’s ability to market its players and image to the public. This is why I think Whiltock hits the nail on the head when he says, “Harsh sanction is not the cure for ignorance. Education is.”

Why shouldn’t NBA players be given the opportunity to learn about their future professions in college? Is there another billion-dollar industry in the world that hires employees who have no education in the specific business area? I know NCAA athletes are “studying their field” in practices and film sessions, but that barely scratches the surface of what professional athletes have to deal with in the modern world of professional sports. To place as much off the court responsibility on its young stars as the NBA does with out any preparation is unfair. Future NBA players should be learning about the history of the NBA, as well as the business and cultural sides of the NBA in a college classroom. It’s not like student athletes at big time schools are hitting the books to begin with. Maybe with these proposed changes NCAA athletes would actually see a point to going to class and graduating.

I know the chances of these ideas being implemented are highly improbable, but I wish David Stern would listen to Whitlock. I love the NBA, and more specifically I love basketball. That is why I hate when stupid things like players bringing guns into the locker room over gambling debts becomes the focus of the sport. There are so many fantastic on the court stories taking place in the NBA right now, and all anyone wants to talk about is Gilbert Arenas.

The sooner being an NBA player gets treated like a real profession, the better off everyone will be.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life