As a lot of people expected from the start of his college career with the Duke Blue Devils, Jabari Parker is a one-and-done. To his credit, though, he kept most of us in suspense during the season, NCAA Tournament, and especially in the weeks since Duke was bounced by Mercer. He made his decision official today in a piece for Sports Illustrated that he co-wrote with Jeff Benedict, and he touched on everything from the pain of losing his first (and now only) NCAA Tournament game to choosing between his friends and success at the ultimate level in his sport.
Parker claims that aside from the incredible luxury of playing for “the godfather of college basketball” Mike Krzyzewski, one thing that made him want to stay at Duke was knowing that his friend, Jahlil Okafor, will be there next season, as will three more talented prospects. Such is the culture of Duke, of course, as the rich get richer. But it ultimately boiled down to “two simple questions.”
Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?
Which environment — college or the NBA — offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?
The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.
There is something else. My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite. The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It’s ironic, but true. (Via Sports Illustrated)
That’s just a small sample of a much larger explanation that’s worth reading in full. You can say that he’s just overanalyzing the obvious – that he wants to get paid already – or he’s being a classy gentleman, a rarity in sports, by at least offering his gratitude and appreciation for his time at Duke. Or, as a third option, you’re like me, a fan of a shitty mid-market team, just praying that he’s the one that your team selects in this year’s draft. Of course, we should probably all just accept that he’s going to be a Laker and our teams will never win.