Earlier this week, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippin dished out another great assist and decided to do what more adults in sports should be doing. He actually thought about what was best for an 18 year old athlete instead of the long line of adults and organizations making millions off of that "student" athlete.
While appearing on ESPN's The Jump, Pippin said the following:
"I think he's done enough for college basketball, that it's more about him personally now, I think for him as a young player (pauses), I would shut it down. I would stop playing, because I feel that he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career."
The "he" in this case is basketball phenom Zion Williamson.
Zion is currently playing for Duke under coach Mike Krzyzewski who makes $9.7 million dollars per year. Williamson is paid one semester of college education. Although he could technically stay for more of that of-so-valuable education, he will most likely be done with Duke and his classes right after the conclusion of the NCAA tournament in March.
Many believe Williamson will be the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft. At the very worst, he could possibly get picked third. And that is if he never played another minute of college basketball.
In the NBA, rookies are slotted into salaries according to their draft position.
The first pick will earn $44,203,144 over four years (with $19,997,120 guaranteed even if he happened to be a complete bust).
The second pick will earn $39,549,660 over four years (with $17,874,000 guaranteed even if he happened to be a complete bust).
The third pick will earn $35,516,188 over four years (with $16,051080 guaranteed even if he happened to be a complete bust).
So if he never suits up again for the $9.7 million dollar man Coach K again, he will definitely make between $16 million and $44 million. And that is only taking into account his NBA salary. The second he is eligible, Williamson will sign a multi-million dollar shoe contract.
On the other hand, if Williamson continues to play and suffers a back or knee injury, all of that guaranteed money could be gone. Any adult who actually cares about this kid would be insane to advise him to play one more second of basketball for the cartel known as the NCAA.
I honestly cannot believe anyone is shocked by what Pippin said. The shock should be that anyone would risk generational wealth in exchange for the privilege of making coaches and the NCAA billions of dollars.
If your child were in college and was offered $16 million dollars to work his/her dream job, what would you do? Would you honestly say, "I know your childhood dream was to be a computer programmer (or actor, musician, artist, game developer, chef, etc.) and they are offering you a guarantee $16 million to do it... but you should say 'no'. You should stay in school." ?
Do you know what I would say? I would grab my kid by the shoulders and tell him/her that I love them very much. Then I would tell then that they are flat out insane if they turn down the opportunity of 1000 lifetimes. Next I would tell them I expect them to finish college in the off-season. After all, $16 million is a lot of power. With great power comes great responsibility. I would want that power in the hands of an educated individual.
Because the cartel does not want to lose its golden geese, one of the rules states that these kids cannot consult lawyers to help advise them. Those lawyers would be "agents" and the NCAA would hate to see anyone sleazy near their prized student athletes... aside from themselves of course. I hope more respected athletes continue to think of what is best for these kids and make public statements in these players' best interest.
Sadly, they may be the only adults who will.
*For the record, I realize these athletes are technically adults. But think back to when you were 17 or 18 years old. How many excellent life decisions did you make? Were any of them $16 - $44 million decisions? I don't know about you, but it is a miracle I made it to 25.