Stan Van Gundy Thinks A Lot Of The Arguments For The One And Done Rule Are ‘Racist’

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The NBA’s “one-and-done” rule — which prohibits players from entering the NBA Draft until they’re 19 years old and graduated high school at least one year prior — gets debated around this time of the year, every year. After the All-Star break, there’s a month or so before the postseason push begins in earnest and the focus for many shifts to the draft with March Madness nearing, when college hoops takes center stage.

Each year, Adam Silver discusses potential changes to the league’s draft eligibility rule at his annual press conference prior to the All-Star game and the debate wages on over whether the rule is a positive or a negative for players and potential prospects. This year, we’ve already heard from Kevin Durant about the rule, and how he feels the league should do away with it as at 18 years old a prospect should have the right to make that decision whether he wants to go to school or enter the workforce — in this case, the NBA draft pool.

This is generally the argument most bring up in opposition of the “one-and-done” rule. In any other profession and every sport other than the NBA and NFL, players have the opportunity to try and make it as a professional out of high school if they so choose. There are obvious exceptions in the professional world (namely the requirement of a college degree for many jobs), but the NBA is not a place that requires such qualifications and, if anything, the “one-and-done” highlights that hypocrisy as kids go to college for seven months before dropping out to pursue a professional career, simply to clear that hurdle.

Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy made that argument on Sunday, but took it a step further to point out that those that argue against players having the opportunity to come out of high school and into the pros tend to make racist points about the inability of these kids to make that decision at 18.

It’s a strong statement from Van Gundy and one that will inevitably lead to backlash, but it’s a valid point to raise. If kids going off to play minor league hockey and baseball, sports that are primarily white, is acceptable then why can’t kids wanting to play basketball, a predominantly black sport, make that same decision for themselves.

There is a risk for high school players entering the NBA Draft, but there’s also a risk for a lot of underclassmen that declare for the draft after a year or two of college. The main issue at hand remains the NCAA’s continued insistence on holding on to the ideal of amateurism and not allowing players to return to school once they’ve hired an agent (although allowing them to go through the early draft process and then return has been a step in the right direction). In any case, those risks are assumed from anyone at any level in any sport. Van Gundy is right to question the ideals of those who insist they want to protect these 18-year-old men, when they don’t ask similar questions of those wanting to go pro in other sports.