Should the NBA Raise the Age Limit ?

First of all, I speak for myself and not the NBA. My opinion really doesn’t matter on this issue because it is governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and I can assure you that I have minimal influence on what is included in that document.

If it were up to me, I would raise the age limit to 22 or when your class graduates from college. Why ?

It’s not because there are not 18 or 19 year olds who can’t play in the NBA. There always have been, and there always will be. Doing what is right for the NBA is about far more than basketball talent.

My logic is simple.

If a kid is NBA ready to play at 18 or 19, he will be NBA ready at 22. They don’t forget how to play basketball and they don’t get worse. What does change considerably between the ages of 18 and 22 is the maturity level of the kids. Ask any 22 year old in college if they are more “worldly” and better prepared to deal with life post college than they were when they were 18 or 19.

The ability to better deal with the real world is of huge importance for anyone entering a profession. I’m not saying every college graduate is automatically mature. They aren’t, but again, those who are immature at 22, were probably far less mature at 18 or 19.

From the perspective of an NBA owner, maturity is far harder to qualify than talent. Can he manage the personal side of his life ?When friends, relatives and hangers on are coming out of the woodwork asking for something. I know that when I first started making great money, it was difficult for me, in my late 20s to deal with who to say no to. How is a 19 year old going to say no to people who he has grown up around and are still his close friends ? How is he going to deal with the gold diggers ? A 1 or 2 week “Scared Straight” class by the NBA isn’t going to do the job.

Can he deal with all the obligations that come with living on your own, and being in a job that requires you traveling more often than not ?

Does he have an understanding of financial principals ? To a 19 year old kid without financial training, a million dollar contract makes him a millionaire. There is no concept that 50pct goes to taxes and that by the time he pays his bills, he has a great job, that pays great money, but he isn’t at a level that allows him to spend without limit. Unfortunately, there are far too many agents that won’t have the tough love conversations with their clients until its too late.

Which means that all the emotional strain that comes along with being 19 and entering a new profession is introduced to the team. It becomes our obligation to help the player deal with all of this. We get the questions about whether or not he should buy a gun because his buddy tells him he needs one. How to set up a checking account or to get a new drivers license or get a passport. How to deal with breaking up with a girlfriend who now wants money. And that’s not the worst of it.

Raising the minimum age is not about talent, its about maturity. Maturity matters to this league. Mature players are marketable players. Mature players generate far less strain on the league. Mature players can take care of themselves. Mature players understand the business of the NBA and how they can positively impact it to their own benefit.

Look at the two big black eye events that NBA has suffered the past several years. How many of those players are “early entrants” ? Maturity matters.

When people would talk about NBA image problems, and you ask for specific players, its not about black vs white, tattoos vs non, its about mature vs immature. Its that simple.

The younger the player the greater the maturity risk. The greater the maturity risk, the greater the risk to the entire future of the NBA.

I don’t know how we can measure maturity and make it a covenant of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The closest definable measure we have is age. Which is exactly why I’m all for a 22 year old age minimum.

Given all the comments, I wanted to add an update here:

There are plenty of companies that will only hire college graduates. Others will only hire Phds. I think it would be best if we only hired those 22 or older. I dont think it would hurt our business a bit, in fact, i think it would help the business of the NBA considerably.
What most people fail to realize is that working for the NBA is not a right, its a very unique opportunity that is very rewarding, if and only if the NBA thrives as a business. The real question to ask isnt whether or not kids should be able to go to work for us. The real question is how do you keep from killing their golden goose so they have some place to work. The NBA has dug and redeemed itself from enough holes. Im a believer that we pre-empt as many problems as possible and this is one key way to do it.

137 thoughts on “Should the NBA Raise the Age Limit ?


  2. Mark i love you but i beg to differ. If the NBA ownership were to apply some exclusivity code that for example they have to qualify to own an MLB team, you will agree with me that Dallas Maverick would still suck today because you would not be owning it. So let free market determine ownership as well as talent. I mean lets face it, the NBA gets about the same kind of publicity from most of the players as they do from some owners like you ( and i like you very much, so no offense there)

    Comment by ronald -

  3. You are stupid.
    Go and tell all the 18 year olds that they can’t have their dreams yet, because they ‘Might not be mature enough’.
    There are 15 year olds that have played premier league football.
    Wayne Rooney (One of the best strikers in England) scored his first premiership goal att 16, and lionel messi was one of the best players in the world at 17.

    Yuo cant crush talent because they might not b mature…
    Stupid argument, stupid essay, wasted my time.

    Comment by tipsy -

  4. all i have to say to this is Lebron James.

    Comment by jamie -

  5. 19. I\’m sorry Mr. Cuban but as a business owner yourself, I\’m surprised to see you take this position. In this country once you reach the age of 18 you are considered mature enough to vote and serve in the armed forces, but you can\’t play professional basketball?! Any industry that puts an age limit potential employees is being discriminatory, period. It\’s not about race, I just don\’t understand how the NBA can even get away with the 19 yo limit now. As soon as some 18 yo kid with money wants to enter the league I fully expect to see the NBA\’s age limit challenged in court.

    As an NBA owner I understand you wanting to be more certain of your investments but I\’m sure there have been more than enough cases of players who were highly touted coming out of college whose NBA careers were abysmal at best. If anything it appears that percentage wise players who have come straight out of HS have enjoyed far more success than their college counterparts.

    To require a college degree would seem to be a way to take the high road while infuse your league with more well rounded citizens, but that is the hypocrisy of NBA brass. They\’ll never, ever, never-ever-ever-never implement that rule because the league is too dependent on inner city youth with exceptional athletic talents for it\’s profit margin.

    If the league waited on players with college degrees one of two things would happen either nobody would watch because the talent level would be akin to watching an Ivy League game, or Burger King would start awarding college degrees with the purchase of every Whopper

    Comment by ali -

  6. I think 18 it\’s good beginning point.
    Plaing basketball it\’s all what they want to do. So it\’s ok if they start \”real\” basket as soon as they can.

    Comment by Teksty -

  7. I think the idea is ridiculous. Why should a player who can and wants to be in the league have to suffer because he\’s one of the baddest men out there?

    Comment by Nick Smith -

  8. I think Mark is right the age should be raised just watching some of the players from the different teams you can tell the young one by ther actions , they have a sense of look at me ( this does pertain to all because some of the older players have very bad entitlment issues as well) All players get caught up in the moment just like the fans but so many of the young ones forget that it is a honor and a responsibility to not have some sort of self honor and not act as if they alone are the beginning the middle and the end I would love to list the highlights of those that everyone think should be MVP\’S but the list is long.Being a MVP there should be a sense of not only skills but a sense of the game not the \”ME \” factor and this year that seems to be the only thing that is important.

    Comment by C Davis -

  9. MY Perspective toward this issue is somewhat neutral because I think you make a point with the age limit issue and the immaturity of teenagers. On the other hand I also have sympathy for the players that work hard throughout their lives, and they finally get the chance to showcase their talent, especially with most players coming from rough backgrounds and growing up in poverty. Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnnet, Jermain O\’neal, and a few other players didnt have instant impact on the league coming straight out of high school and it took them quite a long time to develope their skills. It is hard to pull out a Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard those are confident mature players ready for the spotlight. I support both sides equally but for now the age limit should stay the way it is espaecially with freshman Michal Beastly and Derrick Rose going to the next NBA Draft, so I think they should wait a year or two to maybe change it because those two freshman should be fun to watch although the \”immaturity\” issue steps in when we talk about Michal Beastly so my point of view stays in a neutral position.

    Comment by Daniel -

  10. Mark,
    Using your logic of asking any 22 year old: Ask any 22 year old in college if they are more \”worldly\” and better prepared to deal with life post college than they were when they were 18 or 19……Ask any 22 year old if they had the chance to start working right out of high school for any of the lottery rookie salaries, if they would? I think you would get an almost unanimous yes. It isnt like you are talking about a 16 year old kid dropping out of HS to join the league. I think the solution lies with you and the other NBA owners to provide those too immature to handle the \”NBA lifestyle\” with guidance, or, better yet not to draft them.
    Dugout Dog

    Comment by Dugout Dog -

  11. If this was true, Jason Kidd would still be good. He isn\’t and the Mav\’s are paying for it in the playoffs. I was hoping this would be our season. I\’d prefer young talent (i.e. Harris) then over unacheieved talent (i.e. Kidd)

    Comment by Andrew R -

  12. While I am one of the first to encourage any teenager to go to college, I\’m not so sure the college rule or age limit rule goes very far in terms of professional athletes. While I attended a prestigious institution where athletic ability didn\’t matter at all (MIT, where nobody gets in on athletic ability), I did/do attend a graduate school where some athletes are treated like celebrities (USC). Honestly, the difference in how athletes are treated (socially) and how they act in college wasn\’t very far from how they were treated in high school (I went to high school with a couple would-be NFL players) OR college. It\’s still the same mentality, everybody is just a different age. I think an age limit may help in terms of a band-aid but, I don\’t think it will be an all encompassing solution to the issues at hand. I think perhaps the only caveat to this arguement are the issues of finance management…but maybe that has more to do with how they were raised (awareness, responsibility) and not necessarily age.

    Comment by Liz -

  13. No one is forcing NBA teams to draft 19 year olds, the same way no one forces them to overpay for underperforming talent. The teams are making investments, and they aren\’t smart enough to do enough due diligence before investing, then I feel no pity when things go wrong. If you don\’t want to babysit the players after drafting them, I\’m sure you could hire someone to teach rookies about finances, and certain life lessons. Make it a clause in the player\’s contract that they have to receive this counseling for their first 3 or so years.

    Getting and subsequently blowing a large amount of cash is something that happens to people all the time; Will Smith told the story of how he got a bunch of money for his first rap album at 18 and was broke at 19. While he doesn\’t have to worry about it anymore, I be he\’ll never forget it, and pass that lesson on to his kids.

    And who only limit it to the NBA? If maturity is the main point of your argument, then limit all people to age 22 before getting their first job!

    Comment by csr -

  14. Mark –

    Still not buying your explanation how this age minimum is legal. There is no market for a 19 year old finance major without a college degree. If there was, the best companies in the world would be offering them permanent positions, not just internships. There is clearly a market for 19 year old basketball phenoms (look no further than the NBA draft this summer). Lebron James should NOT have to fool around for four years because you think he should. That is DISCRIMINATION against him because of his age, and it is illegal. I am still baffled how some hot-shot lawyer has not seriously taken on the NBA for the 19 year old limit. As other posters have pointed out, Michael Beasley filed out his draft documentation with the United States federal government on his 18th birthday. How is it that he can be drafted to go to war and die for this country, but he can not earn his fair market value in this country?

    Aside from being illegal, your idea is also extremely short-sighted, and you of all people should realize this. I know you have been rumored to be looking at owning a franchise in the Professional Football league that will be a compeititor of the NFL. If the NBA raises the min. age to 22, don\’t you automatically open the door to a competing league? Right now no start-up can\’t compete against college and the NBA because they would only have the best players for 1 year. How about under your idea? Don\’t you think you could start a profitable league with some low 6-figure player salaries if you knew you could have the Kevin Durants, Greg Odens, and Eric Gordans of the world? Hey, Seattle has a big empty arena, my guess is they\’d take on a franchise in a second.

    Sorry Mark, still strongly disagreeing with you on this one.

    Comment by Bill -

  15. It is not an institutional decision for the NBA to make. Let each team decide who to draft and each player when to enter the draft.

    How is this different than a young software entrepreneur? We let kids drop out and start companies, similar to entering the draft. VCs, like NBA teams, can choose to invest. This risk is almost identical.

    A 19 year old Facebook startup is no different than a 19 year old LeBron. If you don\’t like the product, don\’t invest. But you should not tell another VC when they can invest or a startup when they can start.

    Comment by Ian -

  16. For those people who say college athletes should get a cut of university\’s profits:

    College basketball players DO earn something for what they give to the university. They receive a free education and a free place to stay and free food. It\’s unbelievable how people overlook this. I agree that they should be able to work, or in the alternative, receive a (very) modest stipend, but let\’s not pretend that college basketball players don\’t get anything from the school. Now, some will argue that in reality many college basketball players don\’t attend class, don\’t graduate, and don\’t care. If that\’s true, that\’s their fault, not the school\’s fault.

    Comment by Alex -

  17. \”Players get worse all the time. They have major injuries and never recover their explosiveness. And in those cases keeping them out of the NBA is reducing their earning potential by millions of dollars.\”

    One solution would be to allow players to hedge their downside by selling \”futures\” on their NBA earning potential. So a player who has great potential at 18 but has to wait 4 years before entering the league, and is worried that he might get injured in the meantime, can make a side deal with an investor, who agrees to pay him $X today in exchange for Y% of the kid\’s future salary as an NBA player.

    Comment by Nemo Semret -

  18. Mark the top 5 MVP canidates: KOBE,GARNETT,PAUL,LEBRON,HOWARD.
    four of those had no college, none of them off-court problems except KOBE which involved an 18 year old accuser/victim and was dismissed.

    Wouldn\’t the smarter thing to do for the NBA is do no AGE LIMIT and not guarantee your first contract! seems like the players union would throw newbies under buss sense everyone with a vote is already on their first contract at least and rule wouldn\’t be retroactive.

    Comment by anthony delorie -

  19. The only reason the NBA is looking to raise the limit is to make life easier on NBA teams. A lot of teams are bad and they are bad because they cannot make good personel decisions. So eliminating young players make teams smarter. Look at the Mavs find me a good YOUNG player on the team that Avery has drafted (pssst you can\’t he doesn\’t exist).

    The league is exempt from Anti-Trust laws so they can do whatever they want since laws don\’t apply to them.

    Comment by Kris -

  20. I do think the experience the education are extremely important but I feel there are too many generalizations being about younger players in general (which I am definitely not one of). Obviously if you are going to have the talent to work hard to make it to that level it requires hard work. For some, work is in education, others in the work force, and like these young men/women its being an athlete. Maturity might not be at its peak with these youngsters, but how many people do you know right now that work by your side…that you feel are not as mature as you? It is the decision of the person to decide their path in life and I don\’t think it is anyones place to take a persons ability to not enter their passion or field because of their age at 18 verse 22. I feel 18 is old enough and we have all seen what these players are bringing to the court. There are always those bad stories but that is with anything you do in life.

    Comment by mary -

  21. Why not go for a win-win in the CBA negotiations. Teams want maturity, and kids want to work in their profession of choice (it as NOT a game). So…why not address each of the points that Mark brings up with a required, independent (not assigned by agent) personal assistant/financial advisor for anyone under 22.

    This person would deal with all the financial requests (the agent deals with getting the money to come in) and ensure that the player understands what is going on and that they aren\’t spending above their means. They would also make sure that all the personal side of things are done and help them cope with life on the road.

    Split the payment of this person between the team (now it costs more to draft the young guy), the league, and the player (since this benefits everyone). They report to the league so they cannot be overly influenced by the player or fired in a fit of pique.

    Many more details to work out. But rather than deprive someone of their work environment or let the players fall victim time and again to the pressures of NBA life, you focus on ways to do both in a balance.

    Comment by Michael -

  22. Mark, oh Mark…where have thou gone?

    As a fellow Libertarian, your comments sadden me. I don\’t doubt that limiting the age to 22 might benefit the NBA and that it also might even benefit the majority of young players who would have come straight from HS. Yes, your ends are (potentially) noble. That\’s not the point. One of the defining tenets of Libertarianism is that the ends don\’t justify the means. Pretty much ever. If the means trampling on something that Libetarians consider sacrasanct (in this case the right of adults to make a living in their legal profession of choice) then you change the means to acheive the same or similar ends. You do not violate fundamental freedoms just to produce a slightly safer, less risky environment. I am curious, how do you feel about the Patriot act?

    As a free market capitalist (at least I assumed you were) your willingness to limit the free exchange of contractual obligations between two willing parties in this particulr issue is rather shocking. As a huge fan of yours, I hope you have considered the moral and legal precendant that this kind of regulation would set if it were to be carried out willy-nilly in various industries and endeavors.

    Comment by Jay M -

  23. I just saw your response Mark, thank you. That said, you do realize that you can get a college degree at 14, even a PhD at 18 – there is no age limit. It is one thing to restrick someone based on a qualification such as a degree, it is another to base something on age. You are not making a fair comparison. Either way, good discussion and good points all around.

    Comment by Mick -

  24. One thing that you didn\’t mention is that this is financially better for you as an owner. Forcing the players to stay in college to develop their skills means that the NBA owners won\’t be paying for future potential like they are today. Currently, many kids are drafted on potential, some make it, others don\’t.

    I am not sure that there will ever be an age limit, but the NFL\’s age limit seems appropriate. Force the kids into 3 years of college, allow them the chance at bettering themselves mentally before they gamble on going pro. I think it is a win-win, but it probably won\’t ever happen.

    Comment by Grant -

  25. This is already been mentioned, but what about LPGA tour players such as Morgan Pressel, Paula Cramer, and others. How about tennis players who turn pro even before high school graduation. How about PGA tour players such as Trever Immelmann who just won the Masters and did not attend college. My opinion is this about cash and culture. Colleges want to make money off of the best high school players before the turn pro. It makes no sense to have someone attend college for one year. They do not give diplomas after one year. It is also about culture (race). There is an assumption that 18-19 year old black players are immature and need three-four years on a college campus to gain maturity. Immaturity is not limited to someones race or economic status. I will challenge Mr Cuban or anyone else to drive through some these neighborhoods and see how some of these ballplayers live. Tell me about character and maturity then. Also the best examples in the NBA have been the high school to pro players (Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine Oneil, Dwight Howard and others. The guys who are getting into trouble have been to college. And lastly, when it comes to character and maturity I would take 19 year old Greg Oden and Kevin Durant any day or late 20 something Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and 40 year old John Daly.

    From MC> athletes in individual sports take on 100pct of the risk. they do it all on their own, or their sponsors dollars. They are guaranteed nothing. That is the big difference. I think if contracts in the NBA were not guaranteed, there would be a different solution

    Comment by Leonard -

  26. Mark,
    As a recent Seattle transplant, I caught your comments after the Sonics game yesterday on Local TV. It really is a shame that the NBA can\’t see the peril they\’re headed for with marketing issues they have related to player behavior, the restriction-free franchise movement policy they seem to have… and the overall opportunity to capitalize on basketball\’s interest in the US and abroad. Granted, there are more foreign-born players in the NBA, but the game is still marketed poorly internationally.

    The recent franchise movements have been a failure at best (Charlotte to New Orleans, startup in Charlote, Grizzlies in Memphis) from both a finanical standpoint AND a marketing standpoint. It just seems like the league is in a shambles on a lot of fronts.

    As a casual observer, who probably looks more at the business portion of the game rather than the competition part, it seems like the league is still trying to live on MJ\’s coattails… and it might be serious time for a change in leadership at the top. Of course I don\’t have the benefit of reviewing the owner\’s balance sheets so… they may be making tons of money on all of this. My guess though is… their income is diminishing.

    Good luck fighting the good fight. Cheers. .bb

    Comment by bill bledsoe -

  27. Hey Mark – Unrelated to this post, but thanks for your support of the Sonics! It was great seeing you at the game Sunday and we all appreciate your comments to the media. Thanks!

    Comment by Brent Ayres -

  28. I think you bring up the larger point of why we should have a standardized class in high school that teaches people not only how to balance a checkbook, but other simple concepts such as spending less than you earn, good debt versus bad debt, etc. Unfortunately, that brings up the even larger point that when schools are closing down music, arts and sports classes, they won\’t have the funds to talk about money.

    Comment by tim -

  29. yeah Ron injuries… but I think it is better to \”cull\” out those prone to injury at a level that does not cost the team or his fellow players so much at the NBA level

    Comment by Hal Goldman -

  30. Cubano…. if you feel so strongly about it, practice what you preach–don\’t draft a kid under 22 or that hasn\’t graduated. It\’s hypocritical to be so outspoken about this and other NBA and life issues, but you act a different way. Why should someone like Lebron James, Michael Jordan (he left school early), Greg Oden have to be held back from opportunity because other young players are immature. Mr. Cuban–who defines who is immature? Is age the criteria? Some people would say you made too much money too young? Would they be right? Of course not. Talent is a valuable asset and the rents should go to their proper owner.
    Free market for all…not just for who the establishment wants to grant it to.

    Comment by Eddy -

  31. So basically, you are letting Jason Whitlock argue for you.


    Comment by To MJL -

  32. I agree the NBA should raise the age limit, but i think to 22 years old is to much. Basically your making them have to play a full 4 years of College ball. If it were up to me i would raise the limit to 20 years old, which would be 2 years of College basketball.

    You also have to look at the potential injury situation. A college player could be worth a lot of money if he\’s able to come out a particular year, but now he has to play all 4 years and ends up with a injury and that hurts his stock in the draft.

    Comment by kelly -

  33. On this topic, I agree with you. When I was in high school, I used to think people that were in their 20\’s were full adults and that they were mature. Now that I\’m 23, I realized that age is just a number. We don\’t really ever change. I worked with 30 year olds who still act like high school kids. The only thing that changes with age is responsibility. It keeps adding and adding. As you get older, you just learn how to manage these responsibilities. That\’s why it\’s so important to go to college. These 30 year olds that still act like kids never went to college and never had a chance to be independent and learn how to have fun while managing their responsibilities. The same thing will happen to kids who jump to the league before they learn how to be men and handle their business.

    Comment by David -

  34. Why would they raise the age limit? For every Kwame brown or player who comes out too younge, theres a J.J Redick who comes out of college and can\’t perform. The longer they make these talented kids wait, the more likely they are to get injured. All it takes is one high ankle sprain or one ACL tear and that player may never be the same again. I think 18 is a perfect age. I really believe that the NBA has so much invested in Lebron James that they want him to break all of the records. They want him to be the youngest ever to win awards and set scoring records. Lebron James is the poster boy of the NBA and by raising the age limit they would just be protecting their investment, which is not fair to some of the outstanding younge talent out there. If they\’re good enough to get scouted, and a team wants to take a chance on them, Let them !

    Comment by Sean Gangadeen -

  35. SOME kids come out early and are able to contribute immediately while others have cost their team a high pick forcing the team to play them while they develope. I\’m tire of seeing a watered down league that is developing too many young players. I understand why they come out, but I don\’t care! I am a customer of the NBA and I\’d rather see the best players on the floor when they are at their best. Not some kids learning the ropes of the NBA.

    Comment by Fred F. -

  36. Mark,
    The problem here is you are looking at it from the perspective of the NBA. The reality is that there have been many kids whose lives (financially) were harmed by going to College. And as part of the American Dream/American Experience/whatever you want to call it, all decisions when in doubt should favor the individual over the corporate entity.

    Consider the case of Felipe Lopez a few years back. He was considered the can\’t miss uber High School Prospect. Somehow he was talked into going to St. John\’s rather than declaring for the draft out of high school.

    Well, instead of being a top 5 pick signing a then 7-10 year deal (he was before the Rookie Capped deals) that would have provided financial security for life, he came in struggled at St. Johns and then has since bounced around various European Leagues (assuming he is still playing now, not really sure), looking to make a living. How is he and his family better off without that $50-60 million he would have signed for out of high school?

    Lopez is one example, but there are others (Jonathan Bender ended up ahead financially by going pro out of High school, which given his injuries may not have happened for him if he went to College). And there are other people who certainly have benefitted from going to College and maturing. Each kid is different, and to choose to not employ them (you are right, it is not discrimination to put a minimum in for a Business\’ employment as a qualification, not debating that) is selling the kid\’s opportunity short, and therefore possibly your own.

    Comment by Erik Merk -

  37. Great discussion, but I think Craig\’s post about the NBA creating a true minor league system is the real answer here. However, that would in effect turn March Madness into the College World Series, which is why it hasn\’t happened so far and possibly never will. David Stern is a basketball fan and watched the entire Dream Team and countless other NBA stars make their way through the NCAA tournament. There\’s no way he deals the death blow to March Madness. However, theres also no way to keep that beloved tournament and maximize the development of NBA-ready talent here in America.

    The majority of the players on the All-NBA teams this year will have spent only a handful of years in college. The top four candidates for MVP – Chris Paul, Kobe, KG and LeBron spent a combined two years in college and last years MVP probably never even considered it. They all knew NCAA basketball does little to prepare a player for life on or off the court in the NBA. Lots of great college players do nothing in the NBA, and many players who went through college still have problems adjusting to the NBA Staying in school longer does not guarantee any kind of development. Or as Kobe Bryant once put it, Some players go to college and get better and some come out worse.

    Keeping a player in the NCAA for another year or until hes 22 also will not keep a player away from social pressure or gold diggers. Money isnt the only thing that changes about an athletes life, fame is just as difficult to handle. In fact, Im sure there are more unsavory incidents per year with players who are the Big Man on Campus than there are with NBA stars. Name one player in college or minor league baseball right now that is on par in attention from the media with Rose, Chalmers, Love, or Mayo. Keeping these players in college forces them to face similar social pressures without any money to spend.

    Comment by Justin -

  38. Mark, appreciate the perspective and agree the league would be better with a portfolio of more mature employees.

    Yet, on this issue I always come back to the same place. An 18 year old is an adult and has the right to decide that if they want to work how they will make their living.

    We allow 18 year olds to take jobs in industry all the time. We allow 18 year olds to join the military (which is, to many, a job), so why would we prohibit 18 year olds who are proficient at bball from earning a living at it (albeit a lucrative living)?

    Comment by MCaplan -

  39. To Josh and Evan S, #95 and #96, you must simply like LeBron, which is why you posted these comments. Why would I waste the time making an argument against him when other in the media have already done so. Do your own research and you\’ll come up with quotes about LeBron like this one:

    \”LeBron James is a kid, and his talents as a basketball player and absence of a father allowed him to \”grow up\” rather than be \”raised.\” His stated goal is to be one of the richest men in the world. Like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, he is a child celebrity interested in increasing his fame and little else.

    He\’s in very good and very deep company when it comes to being unconcerned with and unqualified for the job of representing black men in a positive light.\”
    -Jason Whitlock,

    I have no interest in getting in a debate with anyone regarding LeBron, as this is blog about age limits, and since you asked for some support to the example I gave, there you go. Now if you want more, you can look it up yourself.

    And to Josh #95:
    \”4 years playing college basketball does not automatically equate to the maturity you speak of.

    The college and pro games are extraordinarily different.

    And what exactly do you mean by \”education?\” \”

    You\’re right, 4 years doesn\’t automatically equate to maturity, but it sure helps! Have you not worked in business to be able to see the difference in the maturity of a worker at 19 vs. 22? I am a Project Manager and Systems Analyst, and have worked on many projects, with all levels of an organization, and there certainly is a difference on the maturity level between people who are 19 and 22, which affects their ability to contribute to a project. The NBA is no different – it\’s a business, and it\’s affected in the same way other businesses are.

    And you\’re right, college games and Pro games are extraordinarily different. DUH! Which is why when I see players who have not grasped the fundamentals of the game in the NBA, I groan. They could have stayed in college longer and become a better player! That\’s what I mean by \’education\’, which I already stated, had you read my original comments, vs. looked for an argument because I insulted LeBron.


    Comment by MJL -

  40. I think the bigger issue is that we have 18 and 19 year olds (disclaimer: I\’m 19) who aren\’t ready for life. I\’m not entirely ready for life, but I know how to balance my finances, I know how to organize bill payments, and I know how to do many normal things that come at me in life. I can do all these things, and I still live with my parents. The reason for this is that my parents sought to make sure I knew how to do necessary tasks and how to get by in important areas of life. My parents have taught me how to find out most things I don\’t know how to do. And when I don\’t know how to do something and can\’t seem to figure it out, they help me with it. What this comes down to is a word that most parents don\’t fully understand, despite its close relationship with them: parentING. I\’m not saying that every HS grad needs to know every life skill. And I know that every individual comes from a unique background and we can\’t expect the same things from everyone. What I am saying is that if more parents did their job after their kids were born, the maturity level wouldn\’t matter, since this post would only be able to talk about the exceptions rather than the majority of the young, prospective players.

    Comment by JimmyB -

  41. I\’m with #95. MJL, it sounds like you just have something against LeBron. He\’s done nothing to warrant your comments about him.

    Comment by Evan S. -

  42. @ MJL

    \”Kevin Durant is one I think of every time I see him and I feel bad for the fact that he\’s stuck on a team with no one to mentor him and give him the education that he could have used if he\’d stayed in school.\”

    4 years playing college basketball does not automatically equate to the maturity you speak of.

    The college and pro games are extraordinarily different.

    And what exactly do you mean by \”education?\”


    \”LeBron\’s ego is another one that is out there. I can\’t wait for him to grow up.\”

    You simply must dislike LeBron.


    The kid is a great face to have for the NBA.

    He does not get into any trouble.

    Is a father to his child, etc.

    What you stated has no true backing beyond personal opinion.

    (And it makes no sense beyond personal feelings actually)

    Comment by Josh -

  43. I completely agree. I\’ve had this conversation with my husband so many times when we watch games and see the stark difference in the level of maturity between players and we also see how much better players could be if they learned more about how to be a team player and to master the fundamentals of the game, vs. coming in with an attitude like they are the best, when it\’s obvious that they are not.

    Kevin Durant is one I think of every time I see him and I feel bad for the fact that he\’s stuck on a team with no one to mentor him and give him the education that he could have used if he\’d stayed in school. I see that he has talent, but I also see that it could be so much more in the right environment (like college). It doesn\’t help him that he\’s on a team where the owners have made decisions with alterior motives in mind, vs. ones that are in the best interest of the team/players. But I digress…

    As for those who tout Kobe and LeBron – I enjoy watching Kobe play so much more now then when he first entered the league. He was immature and his ego was out of control. The good thing that came from the Colorado scandal is that it helped to humble him, but I think staying in school could have also done the job.

    LeBron\’s ego is another one that is out there. I can\’t wait for him to grow up. I have nothing against the Cavaliers, but having him on the team instantly makes me root for their competitor. How much more enjoyable would it be to watch him if he were a team player vs. acting jealous when a teammate gets the spotlight (I\’m recalling an incident in the All-Star Game weekend). Right now it\’s all about him, and that makes him no hero.

    I\’m wondering if people know how ridiculous some of these comments are – I wonder if people know that some rental car companies require you to be 25 to rent a car? It\’s been that way for some time now, and I don\’t see any cases going to court about it. Some condo rentals where I live have the same age restrictions, as well. I\’m sure there are other examples if one looked into it. It\’s their right to run their business as they please, so as is the NBA\’s right to have an age limit if they see fit.

    Thanks, Mark, for another intelligent opinion that I wish others in the organization shared. And no, I\’m not a Mavs fan, but have recently become a fan of yours after discovering this blog.

    Comment by MJL -

  44. \”Sounds similar to me and in fact I would argue that being sent to Iraq is a more adverse situation than going to bounce a ball around on a parquet floor and travelling the country by charter air…\”

    Wow, what a bold statement. You mean to tell me that playing a sport is less stressful than traveling in a hostile, war-like environemnt? Come one, shooting threes has to be at least close?

    To all of you who don\’t have a clue about logic, equating soldiers fighting in a war with NBA policy is completely irrelevant. People in China work in sweatshops at age 11. Should that be part of the debate as well?

    Perhaps this will help you see things more clearly; if the Army raised its minimum age to 25, should that have any relevance to the NBA whatsoever? Would you be saying, well, I can\’t even fight for my country until I am 25, but I can shoot a ball at 19, thats not fair?

    Comment by dave -

  45. ok here it goes, I am a life long Mav\’s fan I love my team. I love the NBA I have never been to Seattle of even close to Washington State but what is going on up there is just wrong, this is going to be a huge black eye on the sport. I\’m asking please help. as an owner and the best owner in the NBA thank you very much, please help with this matter. you have the power. when I talk to people about you I always tell them your like the owner of the cowboys, JJ you love the game and you will do anything in your power to make it the best game on the planet! I have tried to think of what it would be like to have you sell the team and have the new owner pull this crap and it makes me want to cry. so I ask again please help. Mav\’s forever.

    Comment by napoleon williams -

  46. Mr. Cuban,
    We the fans of the Seattle Supersonics would like to ask for any help and insight you can share with us. I\’m sure you\’ve heard the news today of the blatant lies Clayton Bennett, owner of the Seattle Supersonics, foisted upon David Stern and the fans of the Supersonics. If you want to see the hornet\’s nest, visit us at

    I don\’t know if Mr. Stern would censer your wearing of a Save Our Sonics T-shirt, but that would be cool beyond your working at Dairy Queen. Brian Robinson can hook you up if you are willing.

    Thanks for keeping an open mind on keeping the Sonics in Seattle!

    Big Chris

    On the age limits, I am OK with an age limit, but I think the NBA then needs to help underwrite insurance policies (or allow for agents to underwrite them) without the player giving up his full eligibility. I don\’t know that the NCAA will go for that or not. I know there currently is a form of this, but a lot more players would be impacted (at least initially) by this change. I think a move toward maturity would be great for the NBA\’s image.

    Comment by Big Chris -

  47. I can accept (without fully agreeing to) your end goal, but disagree 100% with the means.

    It\’s called ageism.

    As you know (or maybe forgot), the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1995 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical disabilities, age, sexual orientation, etc.

    I don\’t disagree with you when you say that implementing a 22yo age limit would result in a more \”mature,\” and trouble-free incoming class. The problem is, its both highly prejudiced and completely illegal, and should be treated as such.

    The generally accepted idea that the majority of 18YOs are immature does not give you the right to lump all of them together. That is the same thing as taking individuals of certain demographics and punishing them for presumably having the same characteristics of their overall demographic.

    I do understand your concern, however. Maybe a better way of handling this would to implement some form of maturity test as a requirement for draft eligibility. (Of course, this would inevitably result in some college graduates being unable to pass the testkind of like the SAT problem with low-grading high school athletes.)

    Having said all this, I dont doubt David Stern could include such a age-discriminating rule if he really wanted. After all, hes already implemented the one year after graduating high school rule, and I dont see how thats not equally unconstitutional

    Comment by howard u -

  48. I couldn\’t agree with you more, Cuban!

    Comment by Kelly B. -

  49. Dear Mr. Cuban,

    I\’m requesting that you please attend the Sonics / Mavericks game on Sunday April 13th.

    If you can make it I am also requesting you accept the offer extended to you to be provided a Save Our Sonics T-shirt.

    Lending you celebrity to this cause would IMO make you the greatest sports owner of all time. (You might already be but we could really use your help!)

    In exchange for wearing a SOS shirt to the game I pledge to become a Mavericks fan, so long as you are team owner, if and when our beloved Seattle Supersonics are stolen from Seattle.

    Thank you for your time,

    Eric Johnson
    Seattle, WA

    Comment by Eric Johnson -

  50. Er, sorry for my last comment, I can see now that other people brought up the same concern…

    Comment by Charlie -

  51. Mark, one other issue – and I can only read the first 20 comments, so I apologize if someone already brought this up – how does the NBA compete with Euro leagues in attracting top talent, if the NBA puts a 22 year age limit on entry? Hollinger brought this up, but I was curious as to your take on it. Would Lebron, or Durant, or Kobe, etc. play in college for 4 years, when they know they could make millions of (tax-free)Euros? Once they\’re over in Italy, what brings them back?

    Globalization did wonders for the talent pool in the NBA, but here I could easily see it backfiring.

    Comment by Charlie -

  52. I have a conversation like this a few years ago with some of my buddies, not with basketball but with hockey. Again there are exceptions like Sid the kid who can come in at 18 and tear up the league after playing in the QMJHL, but the maturity of the players who are coming in from the NCAA on the whole is much better. You can\’t argue that maturity isn\’t the problem with a lot of these kids, they begin making more money in a season then their parents had their entire lives in a lot of these cases, yet they\’re still in the mentality of a teenager and from the streets (not so much in hockey but basketball) and feel that they need to buy a gun and a bullet proof hummer. College is such a great opportunity for these youths, a free education and 4 years to get their heads on straighter.

    Comment by TC -

  53. While I\’m not leaning one way or the other, it would be interesting to see how Europe and the other international leagues deal with this issue. Or, is this a purely US problem given the immense wealth that these young adults earn (as opposed to more moderate pay structures in Europe). Possibly looking at professional soccer might be a more apt comparison for the international market–they\’ve been dealing with this issue much longer than we have with comparable pay structures.

    Comment by D -

  54. \”E-mails reveal Sonics owners intended to bolt from Seattle \”

    This is more evidence that the PBC group did not make an honest effort to keep the SuperSonics in Seattle.

    Would this be someone who you prefer to do business with?

    Comment by John_S -

  55. Okay, say the NBA imposes an Age 22 restriction, and also say that European leagues continue to increase their salaries as you mentioned in your \”The NBA vs the Rest of the World\” post on 10/7/2006 – It seems to me that every 18-22 year old would now have one more reason to relocate to Europe for 4 years.

    Considering the NBA age limit is only 19 now – logistically, it would be foolish for a High School player to go overseas for 1 year, whereas if he went over for 4 years it would make more sense – plus he has 4 years of international competition under his belt and was paid at or higher to what he would have in the NBA.

    As you mention, some companies only hire professionals with PhD\’s or MBA\’s etc. – So do companies that hire and scale their wages based on collegiate experience. Say Employee-A has no formal college education, but Employee-B has a year or two of college under his belt. I would expext that the Employer would be paying each on a different scale based on their education experience. That is the approach the NBA should take on this. Make it an incentive for NBA prospects to go on to college. This way players such as Lebron James have the choice.

    Endorsement contracts from companies such as Nike, Addidas, Reebok, etc. – will only be reserved for the Lebron James\’ or Kobe Bryants\’ of the world. Those companies won\’t be spending millions on players like Korleone Young or Ellis Richardson, who they think won\’t make it in the NBA – only those players who look to be potential superstars will land the endorsement contracts.

    Finally, the maturity level of kids at 22 versus 18 – consider a 22 year old Len Bias and how mature he was only 48 hours after being selected by the Celtics.

    Comment by Jim in KFalls -

  56. mark, do you feel the 22 year age floor should exist for the developmental league?

    Comment by tallfan -

  57. Can anyone name a player that came straight from high school recently that has totally messed up?

    Comment by Rob -

  58. I don\’t think requiring someone to wait until they\’re 22 to enter the NBA will necessarily make them a better player or even more mature. Since college players can\’t have jobs or earn any money, they still won\’t know about living on their own or opening a new checking account. Knowing how to handle difficult situations doesn\’t come with age, it comes with experience. A 22 year won\’t know how to handle a million dollar contract just like a 19 year wouldn\’t because they never had the experience. I think the NBA and the player\’s union just need to do a better job of assisting and mentoring players when they come in the league, no matter how old they are.

    Comment by Rob -

  59. I could not agree with Mark Cuban more. Years ago, the drinking age was 18 in many states. Many 18-year olds were not mature enough to handle the freedom to drink. The federal government forced the states to raise the drinking age to 21. That change in the law resulted in a reduction of highway traffic deaths. There are people that do not believe raising the drinking age as fair – but 18-year olds in this era are not mature. The NBA would be better if the age limit was raised.

    Comment by Dale Rogers -

  60. I dont know if an age restriction is the answer, Mark. A better minor league system is. The way the NBA is structured now, you need to make an immediate impact or you\’re done.

    The NHL and MLB has minor league systems that give late bloomers a chance to nurture their talent, and those who may not be sparking it up right away a chance to work on their game without riding the pine.

    Sure, there\’s the Development League, but a farm system would give teams a better depth and talent development structure without feeling the pressure to throw kids into the fire right off the first tip.

    Comment by bz -

  61. \”The MAJORITY of NBA prospects haven\’t a clue if they will really make it. \”

    Isn\’t that the same way that a majority of 18 year olds sent to Iraq have no clue if they will come back alive or not? Sounds similar to me and in fact I would argue that being sent to Iraq is a more adverse situation than going to bounce a ball around on a parquet floor and travelling the country by charter air… you try travelling around in a Black Hawk with sniper fire constantly whizzing at you and you will know what I mean….

    Comment by Dennis O. -

  62. \”If losing a few young phenoms to injury is the price of image, that to me is a small price.\”

    John from Memphis..

    What an Idiot you are how can you say that that is a small price for \”YOU\”… it has absolutley nothing to do with you… Please tell that to Greg Oden had he had Microfracture Surgery while still at Ohio State (If he had stayed in school – that is..)

    Comment by Dennis O. -

  63. I am tired of all the people (including you Cuban) who claim that working for the NBA or the NFL is not a right but a privilege. Would you say the same thing about say Microsoft Engineers who maybe have a PHD and have maybe had 4.0 gpa\’s all through their college lives? They get hired as engineers because they are talented and bring a skill to the table. The same with blue chip basketball players or football players…. its always comical to me to hear people say that basketball players should know that its a privilege to play in the NBA and not a right. Well if I am talented enough to be an NBA all star, then no one should think that they are doing me a favor to \”let\” me play in the NBA. Just in the same way, if I am a talented investment banker, no one should think that they are doing me a favor in letting me run a hedge fund….

    The other thing I\’d like to point out is that this \”privilege\” issue only comes up when Football and Basketball players are being discussed. No one ever says that it is a \”privilege\” and not a right for Tiger Woods to play golf, or Roger Federer to play Tennis or any NHL players for that matter… You can infer what you want from that…..

    Comment by Dennis O. -

  64. The Spencer Haywood Rule will be tough to overturn. Wilt Chamberlain left Kansas early, couldn\’t go to the NBA because of age, played with the Globetrotters and did beyond alright. Haywood started the \”hardship rule.\” Today\’s players should have to prove several points to show they are in a position of financial difficulty. As of today, they simply \”declare.\”

    A stricter enforcing of this rule would surely limit the number of immature young adults by severely decreasing the pool. For every Darryl Dawkins, there is a Bill Willoughby. The buck should stop here. If so, the college game rises in popularity even more, those players are on center stage for 4 years, increasing their marketability and everyone wins. A revenue-sharing deal with student-athletes may also help, establishing a fund after graduation for them and stopping the one-sided flow of dough to the college fat-cats.

    Just my two cents and change…

    Comment by JT -

  65. Mike Stein post number 65:

    Hey great points, buddy. A handful of extreme outliers is a very reasonable argument, right? You know, every college kid should tell mommy and daddy, \”Bill gates is worth $50 Billion plus and he didn\’t graduate, why should I?\” That would make sense, right?

    And an actual league (where rules are set for the benefit of the league), is the exact same as somebody starting a business, right? Moreover, in the majority of cases you listed above, the aforementioned individuals already had substantial (or very, very promising) businesses BEFORE they quit school. The MAJORITY of NBA prospects haven\’t a clue if they will really make it.

    Also, what everyone fails to consider here is that playing in the NBA is not a right, it is a privilege. It is a league with a governing body, it is not the YMCA.

    It really is amazing how dumb some people are: you really can\’t differentiate between a private league and the rest of society, isn\’t that right, Mike?

    Comment by dave -

  66. to post #9:

    Perhaps you should think for a moment how MLB, NBA, PGA, NFL and NHL differ.

    The PGA has many tours (Hooters, Nationwide etc) that act as a minor league system. MLB has an extensive minor league system. NHL has an extensive minor league and \”juniors\” program.

    The fact that MLB, NHL and PGA have extensive minor league systems speaks more to the difference in age requirments versus NFL and NBA than race.

    It is obvious that in this country at this time that there are many screaming racism every chance they get, but I really wish people could look at reason from time to time as well.

    Comment by Tyrone -

  67. How do you square this position with your view of the NCAA and the limitations it places on players attempting to become professional athletes (which you\’ve discussed in some detail in previous posts). This is confusing to me.

    You seem to believe that age would be a good proxy for maturity, but there isn\’t any evidence to suggest that early-entrants in the NBA are disproportionately more troublesome than players who stayed longer in college (especially if they went to Cincinatti). There are an infinite number of factors that retard the emotional growth and maturity of professional athletes, and NCAA Division I athletics is not a \”cure\” (sometimes it can be a detriment). The train toward nihilism and perpetual immaturity starts way before college (see William Rhoden\’s \”Million Dollar Slaves\”), and often is only exacerbated there. You can\’t control how these kids grow up and what they experience in their lives. Those are the things that make them who they are.

    I know its of little concern to business owners, but I also question the policy of funneling athletes who have little interest in education into academic institutions. Our K-12 school systems do a terrible job of getting kids ready for college, this is especially true when kids spend all their time focusing on athletics. This plan just seems like a mismatch. Some kids want to go to college. Would you support opening up the developmental league for younger players? Creating a \”club system\” as an alternative? College really isn\’t for everyone. I know you don\’t suggest that the kids HAVE to go to school (they just need to be 22), but that\’s obviously where they would feel pressured to go.

    Comment by eric g -

  68. I think what most everyone here is forgetting is that for every Kobe, or KG who comes straight from high school and succeeds at the highest level, there are 10 guys who come out, lose their college eligibility and lose everything.

    Kobe wasn\’t really good until he matured anyway, he could have waited.

    Comment by Jake -

  69. i tend to agree with you a lot, but this is one time that you\’re completely off. your logic doesn\’t argue for a CHANGE to up the age limit, it only argues why the higher limit should be sustained if it were already the status quo.

    for example, using the exact same logic, i could say that college players should be required to finish college and play in a 5 year mandatory stint in the D-league before qualifying for the NBA. why? they don\’t get worse, but they get more mature.

    see, this makes no sense. throw in the fact that injuries could be the difference between being set for life and never being able to play in the NBA, and you can see why limiting entrance to the NBA is a flawed policy.

    Comment by Joe -

  70. I could not have said it better Mark. Injury risk is a minimal argument, an 19 year old can get injured in the NBA and in College. It\’s an overall image thing the NBA suffers from the most. If losing a few young phenoms to injury is the price of image, that to me is a small price.

    Comment by John from Memphis -

  71. To MC regarding your dismissal of the study:
    You and the NBA have enough money to do another study. I\’m guessing if the actual data was there to support your claim, you and the NBA would be broadcasting it on every possible outlet.

    Comment by Dervin -

  72. Hey Mark,

    Thanks for your insights on this issue. I think you have the right point of view on this, and used a great illustration when you said that very few companies hire people that don\’t have degrees.
    One of the earlier comments to this post was from someone who didn\’t agree with your argument that basketall players don\’t get better, and then used injuries as a reason. This is actually ludicrous because an injury isn\’t something that stops anyone from getting a degree, which is going to be more beneficial in the long run, than actually playing in the NBA. Just ask thousands of ex pro players who have retired and waisted most of their money. Why? Because of immaturity.
    I think you\’ve made a great point here Mark and hope the NBA sees it.

    Comment by Marty -

  73. Oh the irony of someone who made billions off of Internet business rooting for an age limit or for only college graduates to enter the NBA.

    Here are some richies:

    * Bill Gates (dropped out of college) — formed Microsoft at 20. OOOOPS! You can\’t do that til you\’re 22 now.

    * Mark Zuckerberg (dropped out of college) — founded Facebook at age 19. OOOOPS! You can\’t do that til you\’re 22 now.

    * Richard Branson (dropped out of HIGH SCHOOL) — thank goodness he didn\’t start Virgin Records until he was 22.

    * Michael Dell (dropped out of college) — founded Dell at age 19. OOOOPS! Gotta wait til you\’re 22, bud.

    * Steve Jobs (dropped out of college)

    Uh, maybe some people are advanced beyond college? Maybe the NBA should stop trying to save its free minor league system (i.e. college basketball) and work on a way to integrate young players into the league properly? After all, your league\’s best players (Kobe, LeBron, Garnett, Dwight Howard, McGrady, Tony Parker) didn\’t go to college.

    So save the idiocy for courtside ranting. There is no factual basis for the contention that players coming direct to the NBA from high school is a bad thing.

    Comment by Mike Stein -

  74. ???????

    Isaiah Thomas went to college. He\’s also a grown man who has been in the NBA for years and year. Oh, is the sexual harrassment lawsuit and Knicks debacle NOT the big black eye you are talking about?

    Tim Donaghy is a grown man who graduated from college and also spent years referreing in college. Yet he got caught up with gamblers and fixed NBA games. Oh, this is NOT the big black eye you are talking about?

    The big black eye specifically fits the criteria that you want it to fit in order to make a case that the 19-year-olds are immature?

    Gimme a break, Mark. You are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Comment by Mike Stein -

  75. What if a player is not clever enough to go to college? Should he not be allowed to be in the NBA?

    Comment by Reel Seigel -

  76. Mr. Cuban

    I agree with you on this one and here is why.

    I was a heck of a lot mature when I was 22 than I was at 18. I still can not believe all of the stupid things I did during those ages and I am very grateful to be alive.

    I have been reading other comments about race, right ect ect. You are correct, It is not a right to play in the NBA, it is a privilege and too many players think that one day 1 they will all be like mike.

    For every rule that is established, there will always be exceptions. But as an owner, should you not have the right to say I want my employees to be this age or have this degree. You are the man who is signing the checks, should you not make the call?

    How many people are not ready at 18 compared to 22. I would say that I was.

    Comment by Mike McStay -

  77. This is why I\’m a Cuban fan: He (almost) always makes a compelling, logical argument when he opens his mouth on a topic. This is not the first time he\’s taken a stance contrary to mine and made me re-think my position. I was of the \’they-can-go-to-war-so-they-can-go-to-the-NBA\’ mindset but after hearing Cuban I understand that\’s a short sited, self centered way to look at it.

    This might not be the best example but it\’s sort of how the Mafia used to not allow any foolishness from their minions around any of their revenue producing operations; they understood the cash cow they were sitting on and didn\’t want to risk doing anything that would draw unwanted attention to a cash cow. I think Mark is essentially saying; \’let\’s err on the side of caution to maintain this NBA thing of ours\’.

    The NBA is so economically viable because of what the generations accomplished and to preserve that, I agree that extra precautions must be taken so that Lebron\’s kid and Shawn Kemp\’s kids can enter into the same, if not better, situation in the future.

    As for the injury argument…meh. You can\’t name a can\’t miss prospect who flamed out before 22 because of injury (Dajuan Wagner doesn\’t count – not an injury). I\’m a hoops head that has followed just about every Mcdonald\’s All American for the last 10 years and sports medicine has gotten to the point that (at least when a patient is young) there is almost no injury that is considered a career ending injury anymore. Youtube \’Shawn Livingston & injury\’ for example. Ten years ago, his career would have been over but because of his age and the advancement of medical procedures, he might play this year. Leon Powe, Baron Davis are two more examples of guys who had ACL surgeries before they got to the NBA and both of them looked pretty good last I checked.

    Comment by brian -

  78. As a NBA fan and soon to be college graduate, I agree with everything Cuban says. The NBA and NCAA would both be better off with the age limit being higher, 22 being just right. The result of changing the age rule has been seen in the college game with any good player, ex. currently O.J. Mayo, using college ball as a practice season before going pro. The result is the decline of the quality of college basketball and to some extent, a decline in NBA quality. Older veterans are being replaced by young talent that is too raw and undeveloped for the NBA.

    Comment by Garin -

  79. This is probably one of the most profound, unselfish comments that I have heard from a pro sports owner. Thank you Mark Cuban for your comments and your insight. It is a great perspective. You are absolutely correct.

    Comment by Dee Dee Curtis -

  80. I was on the fence when they came out with the 19 yr old or one year out of HS rule, but I only see positive results from that move, especially from a business standpoint. I think the national exposure on the collegiate level of guys like Oden, Durant, Beasley, Mayo, etc. just make them more marketable to the respective fan base that they land in at the NBA level. It just makes good business sense to create demand. And if you keep this issue strictly a business conversation there\’s really no argument. I have no stats to prove it, but I think the beginning of leagues financial dive strongly correlates with the craze of drafting early entry HS dating back into the mid-late 90\’s. I don\’t think increasing the minimum age to 22 would immediately fix the leagues financial problems, but I think it would help.

    Comment by scott milam -

  81. @ Luis

    Unless of course… he lands a 50k per year job with that degree – which is very likely today.

    (To equal that 2 million he made before he got hurt at that 50k job – you do the math)

    College is forever.

    The NBA is not.

    If he gets hurt… go back to school on his own dime.

    Degree + 2 million.

    College is forever.

    80 year olds obtain degrees… they do not play in the NBA.

    Comment by Josh -

  82. I don\’t think age limit is the answer although i do agree players should be more mature. I would recommend until their sophmore or junior year like the NFL has it. Staying in college not only helps a player mature it helps the players have a life after their playing days are over. If the player gets injured his rookie year how long do you think the 2 million dollars he made is going to last? On the other hand if the player earns a degree and then gets injured it would benefit all parties.

    Comment by Luis -

  83. This isn\’t 1985… If a 22 year old age limit was set, I think young players would either start going over sees or another league stronger then the USFL would start competing with the nba and the ncaa\’s.

    If I was a 16 or 17 year old who was around the 15th best player at my grade level, I would gladly sign a 5 year contract for an average salary of 250k per year instead of taking my chances of being exposed or hurt in 4 years of college ball or even my last year of high school ball.

    Since this league might not be operating with a rookie salary cap, it may be able to lure the super prospects for 5 year contracts when they are only 16 years old.

    So even if it was completely legal…I do think the nba would be making a mistake if they instituted a 22 year old age limit. More and more players are clued in that the college ranks is pretty much a \”professional league\” for the coaches who are often paid millions to coach while they often at best get degrees of dubious value.

    Comment by Dan -

  84. @ Sarasota Florida Real Estate

    What is the career life span of an NBA player? Of any professional athlete?

    Not very long.

    The NBA will not be there forever…

    College always will.

    (Why do people never seem to understand this?)

    A college degree does not amount to much these days except for those who love shouting to the world, \”LOOK AT ME! I HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE!\”

    I have a master\’s degree – and have yet to use it (I graduated over a decade ago).

    @ JanScholl

    Better to get into heated arguments over something that warrants better merit.

    \”Hubby used the injury bracket-such a minor argument to me. It rarely happens and in so many cases the injury is from stupidity. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and you have a better chance of safely making the transition.\”

    I had to laugh at this.

    Freak injuries occur in every sport – ALL OF THE TIME.

    You do understand how conditioned the majority of these athletes are, correct?

    Most are freaks of nature and are at top physical condition at ALL times.



    You have got to be kidding me.

    Do you know how many people (non-athletes) tear their Achilles or have hip and knee problems from doing practically nothing?

    Again, just… wow.

    I cannot believe (nor understand) your logic.

    At all.

    Comment by Josh -

  85. Your argument would make more sense if you correctly understood the age limit on international players. International players are actually allowed to enter the draft sooner than U.S. born players at the moment. To be drafted from overseas, you have to turn 19 years old in the calendar year of the draft. To be drafted in the NBA you have to turn 19 years old the calendar year of the draft AND be one year removed from high school. This is why Petteri Koponen was drafted as an 18 year-old out of Finland last season. This is also why Sudanese big man John Riek is entering the draft this season. Maybe you got the rule mixed up with the automatically eligible rule. All international players become automatically eligible for the draft at age 22. But again, they can enter as soon as the age of 18.

    Comment by Mike Schmidt -

  86. Yes.. This is a great point! I think the NBA does need to raise the age limit.. I know guys like Lebron James are superheros and very young, but the kids should have to stay in school, and get the education.. I also fault the NBA though for throwing the money at these kids.. they need to stay in school.. I hear some of their press conferences.. They need to stay in school for sure.. They speak like morons..
    Great article

    Comment by Sarasota Florida Real Estate -

  87. Mark

    While I agree with your position I don\’t believe you will ever see the day that this will happen I was a student at the University of Detroit when Spencer Haywood (one of the best college players I ever saw) broke the age barrier in the NBA. SO you can believe that was a long time ago.
    I have felt for a long time that it is the player\’s unions that are failing to meet their responsibility in the case of underage players. I believe the unions should have a pre-approved list of certified financial advisers that are assigned on a rotating basis to young players coming out of college early. ( I have nothing to do with the financial industry but I have been advising business owners for 35 years and I know the foolish decisions people can make.)
    The adviser can help these young men make informed decisions and in fact, in my opinion, they should have veto power over decisions that have significant financial impact.
    When you realize that a mature player like the Stars Mike Modano can be bilked out of millions of dollars by a close friend it is unimaginable what pressures these young men must face when they come into so much money so early in their lives.
    If they stay in college for four years they will learn more and they will have a different approach to life but they still may not be ready for fame and fortune. On second thought, maybe the rule should apply to anyone making over 1 million dollars for the first time.

    Comment by Mike Genette -

  88. I remember in the 90s (and maybe even today) there was a rental car company that wouldnt hire you unless you had a degree. That was just to be a rental car agent.

    But…as much as I want to agree with you, I cant. If you put an age limit on the NBA, they will go somewhere else. Europe maybe. There may be another upstart come along and try to USFL the NBA. Remember, something that came from the USFL was underclasssmen being able to be drafted. Wasnt Hershall Walker not eligible to be drafted by the NFL so the USFL signed him. Now, we know what happened to the USFL, but I think the example is a good one to make, and it certainly could cause headaches for the league.

    Comment by Jim K -

  89. Okay, Mr. Cuban, I gotta say after reading your blog about raising the age limit, I have to agree with it and then afterwards state how idiotic the comments of those people who state \”this isn\’t fair because players in College don\’t get paid,\” or \”that isn\’t fair because they can join the army.\”

    Understand this.

    This isn\’t about fair or unfair.
    This isn\’t even about, \”what if so and so got injured.\”
    In fact, this isn\’t even about \”Kobe did it, so why can\’t others?\”

    This is about what can be done to raise the level of maturity by rookies.

    The statement by Cuban is that \”age is factor in maturity.\” Granted there is no \”concrete\” relationship between age and maturity, though we do know as \”common knowledge\” that maturity is based on a persons ability to handle their situation, and handling new situations comes with experience. This is the basis of the claim, older people \”usually\” have \”more experience.\”

    Kobe Bryant coming in at 17 right out of high school is an \”exception\” not the \”rule.\” So Kobe did fine, and so did Garnett, but how many other players in the league came in and didn\’t do well?

    One player does not make \”the rule.\” All the arguments pertaining to \”Kobe did this,\” or \”Kevin Garnett,\” or even \”Andrew Bynum\” do not make up all the rookies who come straight out of high school or even those who leave college early to come to the NBA. They make up an exception, and an exception is not something you write the rules on. That\’d be like letting every person who murders once go free because most people who commit a murder do not murder again.

    As for all the Aegism arguments? Give it a rest. It\’s a known fact that people DO in fact MATURE with age. I know this for a fact, even though I\’m only 20, which is probably much younger than most of the people who post this blog. And, I know it well because of the fact I\’m about to graduate from an Accredited school of Nursing with an RN. Something which is much more Rare now a days considering the average age of a nursing student is 32. The age limit for entering into most Nursing Programs however is 18, and I had to wait a year to get in, so likewise, I can empathize with a player being forced to go to college for 4 years, but at the same time it would be much better that way.

    I say this because when I graduate, I\’m going to be doing a normal job. I\’m going to get paid normally, work normally and deal with my social situations like any normal person would. Normal being a situation in which I\’m not put under a microscope. And even with that, going into school has shown me there are extremely difficult situations already in a \”normal\” life. How does this play out when you\’re just a kid of 18 or 19 and now you have your face in the media, with people criticizing many of the things you do?

    I\’ll admit, some players like Kobe, and Garnett have handled it beautifully coming straight out of high school, but how many of these \”kids\” can be Kobe or Garnett?

    Whatever, I\’ve ranted enough.

    Comment by Ronald -

  90. You know, I doubt Mark will ever read this comment, but if he does, I\’ll remind him that as an owner he can make a pledge before god, country, media and fans that HE WILL NEVER DRAFT someone until their class graduates.

    He can call a press conference and tell it like it is and that he\’s not going to contribute to the delequency of a future NBA thug star.

    Comment by Herschel -

  91. I disagree, considering one particular player: Andrew Bynum. An extremely raw player coming out of high school, but from learning under Hall of Famer Kareem, he is on the rise. No college has the training resources of an NBA team, not only that, but college players are limited in the amount of time they can work out. Also look at big men drafted outside of the top 3 in recent years, and most of them are raw coming of college.

    Comment by Chris -

  92. well hubby and I just had a horrible argument over this. I am all for raising the age limit in sports. I also would like to see a stipend given college players (the university gets enough to share). I know they are getting a free education (a free pass in some instances) Hubby used the injury bracket-such a minor argument to me. It rarely happens and in so many cases the injury is from stupidity. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and you have a better chance of safely making the transition.

    Comment by JanScholl -

  93. Mark,

    Okay, so I did a little more research. You purchased the Dallas Mavericks in January of 2000. Interestingly enough, one of the two NBA players to have been drafted in the first round and then failed to make the NBA was Leon Smith. Smith was drafted 29th in the 1999 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks on 6/30/99 for the draft rights to Gordan Giricek and a second-round pick in the 2000 Draft. He was waived by the Mavericks a month after you purchased the team.

    What are your memories of Smith?

    Did that experience help shape your opinion that the NBA needs an age limit?

    Were you involved in the decision to waive Smith?

    Comment by Brandon Hoffman -

  94. I cannt agree with you Mark. If u was inmature at your age it doesnt mean everybody is. More than half of the people who plays basketball in the NBA comes from places you hasnt even dream about. In others words they has far more understanding of life that probably you did at the age.
    You was right when u said there is maturity risk. But that risk has nothing to do with age, has to do with education, values and vision.
    Your generation, Mark, was focus in censuring the kids thought and believe. That\’s why societies evolve and give more chances. Kids of today know more are this age than people know at there 30\’s. WHY? Cuz today we has access to lots of medias and comunication. We live in a informatic era. MEaning we are far prepar than people of your time where.
    Money has nothing to do with maturity. People of 30\’s, 40;s , 50\’s get fraud all the time, because they dont know much about economics. Young people like to share because we want to see everyone fine. BUt u just are a selfish rich dude that only can think about money money money.
    Maturity is about sharing without losing,and giving back everything you take. That\’s the maturity you should learn. That;s why so many people dont like you. Because still at your ages you still doesnt know how to handdle your emotions. And that speak about your maturuty…
    Note: this comment comes from a 22 years old kid who is mature enough to show you how to live.

    Comment by J0w3y -

  95. Excellent article. A couple other points. The quality of the NBA game is improved by not taking up roster spots with guys not ready to play. This move would keep the older more mature guys in the league a year or two longer. Finally, the draft becomes much more reliable since the teams and scouts have a larger body of work to judge and thus should help maintain parity better than the current system which has become a big crap shoot over the past few years.

    Comment by Steve -

  96. To say college basketball players aren\’t given anything is a big mis-statement. College tuition alone is $15-50k a year. Plus books, plus meals, plus tutors, plus trainers, plus housing, plus medical. You are talking about 100k a year in benefits. Not to mention the long term benefits of getting that education.

    Comment by Bill from Austin -

  97. The side of the argument that you neglected to mention is that it saves owners boat loads of money to raise the age when players enter the league. If a player starts playing when they are 18 as opposed to 22, that would be 4 years more quickly that they can reach the highest pay scale in the NBA. If you want to make an age limit for the NBA, it would only seem fair that athletes in college get paid and get paid what they are worth.

    I go to UCLA where they fill up a 12,000 person stadium for every game, raise countless amount of alumni money and receive television money. How much money did Kevin Love, Pac-10 player of the year get paid (over the table that is) this year? 0. This hardly seems fair. If a man is producing this much money for others, they deserve a share for themselves.

    Maybe the solution is to treat college sort of like the minor leagues. Draft the player but let them stay in college. The team could perhaps be required to pay the player based on when they are drafted. i.e., if a high school player thinks he is ready for the NBA, he can declare for the draft. If he gets drafted, that team owns his rights but then must give him a contract as if he is a 5th year player when he enters the league. This would mean he hits free agency more quickly. Perhaps there could be some sort of additional sponsorship that could happen for the players college career as well.

    The NCAA does not want their players being paid but this is an antiquated notion. College players simply are not amateurs anymore. The programs are too big and the money is too big. The idea that these men are in college to be students first is a complete farce that needs to be stopped.

    So limit the age but make sure the kids get compensated fairly. After all, we are all capitalists here, right?

    Comment by Ethan Schreiber -

  98. Mark, you\’re right. I totally agree with your thoughts on this. For every Lebron James, Kobe Bryant or Amare Stoudemire, there is a Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington, Robert Swift or Ndudi Ebi. Many teams waste good picks on players who just aren\’t ready, mentally or physically. The whole \”old enough to defend your country\” argument is a weak attempt to disregard the age limit. In that case, we are talking about two TOTALLY different concepts that should not be repaired, but people mention it because they have no other compelling arguments. Maturity is a big thing in the NBA. Ask the Indiana Pacers how they feel about the maturity of Jamaal Tinsley and the impact it has on their organization. I support raising the age limit, if for no other reason, than it provides the masses with a more complete product.

    Comment by Jase Songaila -

  99. All I have to say is make the money when you can. You only have to be 18 to protect our freedom of this wonderful country. There should be no age limit to make as much money as you want especially in the NBA.

    Comment by Moneywinks -

  100. I think the biggest problem is the NCAA. These kids are forced to live well below the poverty level while the universities make bank off of these kids. You can go to any sporting goods store in any mall in America (and the world for that matter)and spend $50 to $150 for your favorite freshmans jersey and the student atheletes don\’t see a dime. The worst part is they aren\’t even allowed to hold jobs making more than a couple of bucks an hour. Yet the proposed MIT boy from above could do both, stay in school and sign up for $500K bonuses all day!

    They should give these kids some fair level of pay and ease the burdens on them and their families.

    Comment by Jeff -

  101. Carl (post number 10),
    It is people like you who represent everything wrong with the current state of affairs in our country as it pertains to race.

    You honestly believe the NBA and NFL have created their policies by saying or thinking something like the following: \”Hmm the majority of players in our league are black, how can we keep the black man down a little bit? Never mind we would like to see our league succeed (what is the race of the vast majority of owners?) as we have a vested interest there, but lets inject as much racism as we can. And by making all these african americans wait one more year to go pro (eg NBA) we surely will screw a few black men every year. And if there is one thing we can do that is racist with our Billion dollar league, it screw over a handful of black athletes every year.

    And then you conversely believe that the PGA, LPGA, MLB, NHL etc. set their policies in the following manner: \”Hey, I\’ve noticed most our teams, players etc are white, we should let them play at any age as we, us fellow whites, won\’t mind that.

    Carl, How could you possibly argue decisions are made this way? Do you see no difference in the NFL versus, say, the PGA tour? Funny things is, if the NFL were to allow 18-year-olds to play, you would argue white men (owners) were taking advantage of young blacks who aren\’t physically mature enough to play (injury prone) and it was the greed of white men who were forcing them to play.

    If the NFL and NBA were racist organizations against african americans, I think you would have a hard time convincing an alien why these racist leagues consist primarily of african-americans.

    Carl, please think, if you are capable, before you write or speak.

    Comment by David -

  102. Only 4 of the current top 20 scorers came into the league from HS. Take a look at the 2005 draft. There were 3 HS players taken in the first round

    #6 Martell Webster – solid player, but a 10ppg F/G is hardly a superstar

    #10 Andrew Bynum – lots of potential, but not a superstar

    #18 Gerald Green – out of the league

    I don\’t think there is anyway to say HS players \”make better superstars\”. I know Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Bird, Worthy, Hakeem, Ewing, Barkley and Dr J would disagree…

    Comment by Bill from Austin -

  103. Mark you are so full of it. I see where you are coming from in terms of the maturity of players but what it really comes down to is money! You don\’t want to have to pay a 22 year old kid millions of dollars based on potential because since he was 18 or 19 he sucked and all of a sudden at 21 he is playing lights out!You would rather wait until he is 26-28 to talk about paying him mega-dollars. Then you can say well you are going to be 30 soon and you will be on the decline and have a legitimate arguement. Ofcourse as an owner you would rather pay a player on big time contract and walk away. Selfish Mr.Cuban Selfish but smart. If you don\’t like 18 year old player and can\’t deal with the financial obligation of helping them to grow up just don\’t draft them. Draft the college redshirt seniors that could be solid pros but not stars and see how far the Mavs get. But please get off of this \”Oh it is better for the league crap. We see you sweating Mr. Cuban over that Jason Kidd deal. We know you care about winning but you care about that money too and that is why you would not mind the age limit being raised to 22.
    Maturity? Please lol lol.

    Comment by Clive -

  104. I suggest if you are worried about someone\’s maturity at age 18 or 19 just draft them in the second round or don\’t draft them and let them be eligible to reapply again to college if they don\’t like their draft position. But one injury and they are done and being drafted is like winning a lottery ticket. I don\’t care how much taxes are taken out or anything like that a 1 million dollar guaranteed contract is one lottery ticket I\’m going to cash in regardless if I\’m ready or not to handle it. There are plenty of people who have had millions and don\’t have it anymore and age has nothing to do with it. But you can\’t measure maturity by age so age has nothing to do with that either. All professional teams have the resources to have some year long training for anyone they draft. You can put in their contracts to require them to attend any training. The developmental league should also have these courses. As a matter of fact send them there first if you are worried about their maturity level. But you guys seem to only want to benefit from players but have no responsibility for players. The NBA is a players league so why don\’t you guys really do more for them. NBA cares right?

    Comment by Shedrick -

  105. Ok, the problem as many people have pointed out, High School Players make better NBA superstars than College players. College educated players have many more run ins with the law than HS players. We have the studies to prove this (check the URL in my name).

    College harms the best players because they are coddled, Coaches, Fans, students and Administrators all work to keep the players happy and eligible.

    If you push the age to 22, you just might have Europe drinking your milkshake of talent. Would it be that big of a risk for a Euro club to visit Tyreke Evans or Lance Stephenson a two year contract for 250K and a chance to make 4/5 million at the age of 20? As opposed to playing for free in the NCAA.

    From MC>
    I have seen the study. Its dated 2005 and points backwards. A different era, different approach by the NBA. Different media environment under which the players are scrutinized. Basically, the data is no longer meaningful

    Comment by Dervin -

  106. Bottom line…

    Some of these kids are dirt poor.

    No lights.

    Struggling to put food on the table for their families.


    It is easy to say, \”Just wait\” when you are well off. But not so easy to do when you have to go to bed some nights hungry.

    Then there is the chance that some of these guys (if it were not for them skipping college and heading straight to the pros) might have never made it.

    There are these places called ghettos that breed some of the most amazing talents Mark. A lot of innocent people die in these ghettos.


    The most talented prospect may not make it until 22.

    Some may say that is an exaggeration, but ask anyone who lives where gunshots constantly ring out if it theoretically is.

    Also, I love the person who brought up the, \”Here\’s my idea, people should not be allowed to own an Internet company until they are 22, because they are not mature enough.\”

    It is the same thing.

    I always really like what you have to say, but not this time.

    Some of these kids have one shot (ONE).

    And they need to get out of the ghetto before a bullet takes their life or injury occurs.

    We are all immature at 18-19.

    Some obviously more than others.

    But do not put all that age in the same boat/category.

    (And unless you have ever lived in the ghetto, gone to bed starving, had to watch your mother kill herself trying to support you… I do not wish to hear your side. You have to walk a mile in their shoes before giving your opinion. That sh*t hurts. If any one of these kids can survive by getting out early… let them get out as early as they can)

    Comment by Josh -

  107. 60% of ex-players are broke 5 years after leaving the league. There is a problem with the current system from a player\’s point of view.

    Most of these guys have nothing to fall back on, no job skills, no education and no real-world experience. They are use to everything being handed to them, everything being taken care and everyone treating them like some kind of god. When the cash runs out, they are just another unemployed guy…

    Comment by Bill from Austin -

  108. I agree wholehartedly with Mark\’s assessment. I wanted to add another point, however, as to how an increased age limit would help not only the NBA, but the entire game of basketball.

    I love college basketball, always have, always will. That being said, the college game has no doubt been hit hard by the high school revolution in the NBA and the there has seemed to be a trickle down effect into the NBA as well. The best programs in the country are generally being led by freshmen and sophomores. The best players this year, for example, were a group of one-and-done freshmen (with the exception of Tyler Hansbrough). I think this is negatively effecting the college game and, accordingly, the NBA.

    Aside from the obvious question of maturity, allowing 18 and 19 year olds into the NBA at such a young age is watering down the college game. Although March Madness will always be a staple of our society\’s sports culture, we are becoming less familiar on a year to year basis with collegiate players and teams.

    It comes down to marketability. Aside from the fact that allowing these kids to take a scholarship away from someone with an actual desire to get a four year education is a slap in the face to college \”academic standards,\” the NBA is suffering from a lack of interest in new talent entering the league. Without an effective minor league system, many young talented players with no familiarity are wasting away on NBA benches and slipping throught the cracks with nothing to show for it but their rookie signing bonuses. I don\’t see how these players couldn\’t benefit from three to four years in a college environment honing/showcasing their skills while possibly learning a thing or two on the way. I remember the NBA drafts of the 1990\’s where the entire first round consisted of juniors and seniors that we had spent three and four years admiring on the national stage. The current NBA \”arms race\” to try and discover the next Kobe or Lebron has watered down in effect there only minor league system.

    The NBA would greatly benefit from an age limit. It is naive to think that handing some 18 year old a few million dollars and expecting him to make the right decisions is realisitic. It makes less sense when the public perceives the NBA to be handing these checks to kids we\’ve never heard of. Let them play in college for at least three years, build a name for themselves, and come out better players and better people. Like Mark said, the likelyhood that a kid will get worse with college is very low. Playing in the NBA is a privilege that should only be afforded to those who will treat it with respect. The NBA should add a higher age limit so that it can let the college game market its young stars for them.

    Comment by Andy Moya -

  109. At the age of 18 I entered the US Navy and at the age of 19 was at war – I believe in what others are saying in this post – you teach these \”young kids\” right and they will mature as needed. You say \”Look at the two black eye events that . . .\” -Seems to me though you still have \”mature\” players in the league that are into trouble all the time – not only the NBA but other sports as well. What do you say about these guys? Why are they allowed to do these \”crimes\” and still be allowed to earn their millions and play even though they are mature? I\’d say maturity is different in everyone – why not let an exceptional player in at 18-19 versus waiting until 22? You talk about the money and everyone coming out of the woodwork to try and be your friend and asking for money – well there are plenty of mature people who have come into money not even playing sports that are worse off than some immature rookies. IMHO I\’d say the NBA itself needs better training not only for the younger players but throughout your career as an NBA player (this would be for all sports not just the NBA)

    Comment by James -

  110. Mark: With your logic, then, every citizen of the world should be required to wait until they are 22 until they can work in their chosen profession. All musicians, all sportsmen and women, all plumbers, lawyers, all Internet venture caps, all soldiers. Why single out pro basketball when everyone else can earn a living in their respective professions at age 16, 17 or 18?

    Comment by Tony Ramone -

  111. Mark, you once again proved to me why you are my favorite owner. You understand the business of the NBA is not to just get the guy with the most talent, but who is also mature. As you said, look at the incidents even in other sports and the players. Young players just fill the stigma and want to live the fast life without realizing that they have a job to do. They need to handle themselves on and off the court accordingly. I also think at 22, you really have a better outlook than a 18 to 19 year old does. You are still growing and maturing. The question is, what if some kids cannot survive academically for 4 years?

    Comment by M. -

  112. A couple of questions:

    You said, \”If a kid is NBA ready to play at 18 or 19, he will be NBA ready at 22.\”

    What about injury? I know that many of NBA prospects have insurance policies but do those policies meet or exceed the amount they could have made in the NBA? I would be surprised to find out that they do.

    You also said, \”They don\’t forget how to play basketball and they don\’t get worse.\”

    I agree, the chances of a player becoming worse are slim to none. However, I would argue that players become exponentially better in the league as opposed to college. As I wrote in my article, the NBA has the best coaches, the best facilities, the best training regimens, and the season is longer.

    Many of the players who have been drafted out of high school started out slow but were bonafide stars by their third or fourth years in the league. Giving them a better chance of being paid fair market value earlier in their careers.

    I totally understand the maturity factor but there\’s has to be another solution. I\’d argue that maturity is more a matter of life experiences and positive role models than age. Isn\’t it in a team\’s best interests to provide the guidance and role models that many young players need? Wouldn\’t you rather have your guys getting advice and guidance from people in your organization than outsiders?

    Like you said, maturity is so difficult to quantify and doesn\’t always come with age.

    Comment by Brandon Hoffman -

  113. While it would be nice if younger players could wait until they are older I doubt the NBA will raise the age limit anytime soon because they don\’t see any major benefit to them. And we all know what drives most decisions to be made: self interest. If they heard a better case for how it benefits them, then maybe they would consider it.

    Comment by Asset Protection -

  114. It\’s about choice. The player\’s choice and the employer\’s choice. You don\’t think 19 year olds are mature enough. Fine. Don\’t draft them. But don\’t take away OTHER\’S rights to draft them if they don\’t have the same issues that you do. That\’s called freedom.

    Comment by Matthew -

  115. It always surprises me that there is not a more serious discussion about a true minor league system for the NBA in conjunction with an age limit. In my view, this would serve multiple purposes:

    (1) Allow the NBA to more readily justify an age limit by providing a reasonable \”pro\” alternative for players.

    (2) Provide young players who would prefer to focus 100% of their efforts on basketball (as opposed to academics) with an alternative to the restrictive NCAA environment where there are a multitude of limitations on practice hours, etc. Players also would be paid, perhaps using a scale tied to draft position.

    (3) Allow NBA teams to develop and nurture young talent in a structured environment that is much a more low pressure environment than exists in the NBA.

    (4) Provide additional revenue sources for the NBA in terms of attendance, possible broadcast deals, etc. I would think that there would be great interest, perhaps even among casual fans, in teams that feature young rising talents that otherwise would be well-known by playing for large D1 programs or in the NBA.

    Variations on this system long have worked for both MLB and the NHL, and it seems that this would work in the NBA context as well. I know that the NBDL currently exists, but what I have in mind is a system that would feature true prospects as opposed to projects, retreads, etc.

    Since this could seriously deplete the college ranks, major opponents will include the NCAA, university presidents and the broadcast networks (CBS, ESPN, etc.). Nonetheless, seems that there is some potential here.

    Comment by Craig -

  116. I disagree and here is why. Entertainment. Entertainers are paid based on their skills. Dribbling a basketball does not require maturity or an education. Painting a picture, being able to act or sing do not require maturity or education. Now that is my simple argument against having an age requirement to play x professional sport, not that I would think it would be wrong to do so just that I don\’t agree. Now if you want to simply say most 17, 18, 19 year old kids are not mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come along with the fame and fortune I would agree. Would you in your right mind hand a rifle to a 17 year old kid and say I want you to go to every house on this street and find this guy and bring him back here, BUT you cant shoot at anybody who does not shoot at your first no matter how many of them there are and how angry they look. Personally I would not put a kid in that situation BUT it is done and there is a process in place to help those kids mature and some what handle the situation. So, when is the NBA going to come up with a boot camp that will help a young exceptionally talented person mature, learn how to deal with the situations they will inevitably be put in and improve their skills on the court? After all they are expected to adhere to dress codes and codes of conducts so as not to tarnish the image and reputation of the NBA. So NBA (or all professional institutions that profit from the talent of youngsters) take more responsibility for the position you are putting these youngsters in.

    Comment by Mark M -

  117. Mark – can\’t you as an owner begin this trend by NOT drafting the one-year-of-college kids? Would you really pass up Eric Gordon (IU) because of his age? If enough owners choose to pass up on the young players, won\’t the message start being sent to those guys to get some more experience in college?

    Comment by Jeff B. -

  118. I\’m sorry Mr. Cuban but as a business owner yourself, I\’m surprised to see you take this position. In this country once you reach the age of 18 you are considered mature enough to vote and serve in the armed forces, but you can\’t play professional basketball?! Any industry that puts an age limit potential employees is being discriminatory, period. It\’s not about race, I just don\’t understand how the NBA can even get away with the 19 yo limit now.

    As soon as some 18 yo kid with money wants to enter the league I fully expect to see the NBA\’s age limit challenged in court.

    As an NBA owner I understand you wanting to be more certain of your investments but I\’m sure there have been more than enough cases of players who were highly touted coming out of college whose NBA careers were abysmal at best. If anything it appears that percentage wise players who have come straight out of HS have enjoyed far more success than their college counterparts.

    To require a college degree would seem to be a way to take the high road while infuse your league with more well rounded citizens, but that is the hypocrisy of NBA brass. They\’ll never, ever, never-ever-ever-never implement that rule because the league is too dependent on inner city youth with exceptional athletic talents for it\’s profit margin.

    If the league waited on players with college degrees one of two things would happen either nobody would watch because the talent level would be akin to watching an Ivy League game, or Burger King would start awarding college degrees with the purchase of every Whopper.

    Comment by Curly Morris -

  119. I agree with Ron (comment 1). Injuries are a big risk factor for college players looking to go pro. At any moment they could have a car accident, micro-fracture surgery, etc that will greatly reduce their marketability or worse, keep them out of the NBA. Once there of course, they still run these risks, but at least they have a nice financial backing.

    Also, I think the value an 18/19 year old has on the NBA is underrated. TV ratings and seats for Cavalier games (even when playing away) exploded when LeBron came into the league. Of course they would have shot up if he were to join @ 22, but having him in the league at 18 made everyone feel like they were witnessing something special. His shoe deals, jersey sales, etc not only help him profit but also the NBA as a whole.

    Comment by Raj -

  120. Can\’t you just unilaterally refuse to hire youngsters? Or would you have Labor liabilities for doing that?

    And, I thought the \”big black eye\” events were that an official was on the take from the mob and that diddley-squat was done to unearth the whole truth regarding scope of corruption in the NBA officiating ranks. I\’m not even sure anyone remembers any other NBA black eyes anymore.

    By the way, I guess I can stop holding my breath for locker-room credentials; never heard back from you on that…still think this is the best NBA season ever?

    Comment by Michael O -

  121. Cuban makes a good point with this one. Think back on your decision making processes when you were 18 or 19. I think the majority of people would politely classify the reasoning behind most of our decisions at that age as \”comically stupid\”. Now multiply that by (what appears to any 19 year old as) a dazzling sum of money and throw in the pressure cooker of constant media attention. When all this is taken into account it\’s surprising that more \”train wrecks\” DON\’T occur.

    To address the other point made above, the race card aside, the factors that exponentially increase the dangers of poor decision making due to immaturity (i.e. big money and instant media sensationalism) just arent there in the other sports. Football has the age requirement already, though the league rightly points out that the human body simply isnt ready for the NFL at 19. Baseball brings in teenagers and immediately relegates them to a minor league system that keeps them poor (relatively) and unknown typically for 2 to 5 years, if not forever. No one cares about hockey, and salaries in the NHL are on par with relatively successful lawyers. The sporting media provide golfers a wide berth, because no one is interested in their personal lives.

    If a litmus test for judging maturity level cant be devised, the next best thing is an age limit.

    Comment by Matt the Intern -

  122. Hypothetical Question (and I am over simplifying due to space): Goldman Sachs finds a math guru at MIT during his sophomore year. They decide his skills will translate perfectly into the derivitives world. They offer him a large $500k salary plus bonus (this happened to a friend of mine). Should this person have to stay in college? Should the financial institutions impose a false floor on age? Isn\’t this a free work environment? There would seem to be some level of race involved if you think that a young basketball kid can\’t handle it, but it is perfectly acceptable for a kid to go to banking, or play tennis.

    If these guys don\’t have talent or aren\’t ready, then don\’t draft them. It seems you are trying to protect yourself from making a bad decision, but aren\’t really looking at the kids\’ best interests. Maybe the individual teams that draft these kids should have a different set of rules in their contracts and the teams should provide better support. Who are you really protecting, the kids? No, I think you are protecting yourselves from making a bad decision based totally on skill.

    Comment by Mick -

  123. If a kid can be mature enough at 18 to go off to war and die, while making certain businesses rich off the contracts for weapons and god know what else, then he should have the same chance to attempt making it in the NBA, (which is also a business) mature or not.

    I agree that they are still kids. I don\’t care how mature their bodies and their game are, they are still kids. But the law of the country states that once you are 18, you are no longer a minor, that you are an adult.

    Comment by Tommy -

  124. The only argument against you, or to be considered would be the threat of injury. This threat isn\’t apparent in hardly any other profession.

    But I will say that I agree with you. And not only in this realm, but in any other — the music industry, construction, military, etc. There has to be some sort of age/maturity consideration before BIG CONTRACTS are signed.

    Comment by johnny brower -

  125. Agree with you most of the time on your blog, couldn\’t disagree with you more here. How could you of all people support holding down anyones income potential? Here\’s my idea, people should not be allowed to own an internet company until they are 22, because they are not mature enough. Just as ridiculous. Just because bball players are in the public eye, while kids failing to start up successful businesses fall under the radar, does not give the NBA the right to age-discriminate. The current rule is a joke, Derrick Rose should be starting for any team in the Eastern Conference, not getting $900 checks every month to cover rent and food.

    Sorry Mark, you can\’t be capitalistic when it beneifits you, and anti-capitalism when it could maybe hurt you. Get some better decision makers in the front offices of these NBA teams. Let the Artests and Pacmans of the world fall to the 2nd round or go undrafted. If there is a market for LeBron or KG in the NBA, then he has every right in America to get the most money possible for his services. And deep down, you know that is true.

    Comment by Bill -

  126. Its quite strange that the age limit is different for US born and bread vs. International players……why is this? Is this just a trade protection issue or because American players want it harder for International players to take their jobs (US-born players have many more player votes than not)?

    Comment by David -

  127. @Rich Siegel asks \”Should the NBA really deny future super-stars the right to follow in Kobe\’s footsteps?\” —

    I think the answer is clear. It\’s about the overall success of the league, and all of the players and teams within. The NBA does not exist for the purpose of allowing young men to dream of individual records. It exists to make profits by entertaining and engaging fans.

    Too many bad apples hurt the bottom line. I\’m sure you\’re proud of the kid from your alma mater, but for every Kobe there are several who end up making very stupid decisions, some more costly than the \”I\’m sorry\” ring Kobe had to buy his wife.

    Future super-stars will have more than enough opportunity to shine in a healthy and vibrant league, free of the issues immaturity brings.

    Comment by Ike -

  128. One last question, why is it ok for Michelle Wie, Baseball Players and Hockey Players to make money at 18-19, but not ok in Football and Basketball? And this has nothing to do with race?

    Comment by Carl Spackler -

  129. I\’ll take Kevin Garnett, Kobe, LeBron, Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudamire over Stephon Marbury, Stephen Jackson, Carmello Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, and Jason Williams any day of the week when it comes to Maturity. Obviously we don\’t even need to mention the talent part of that equation.

    Comment by Carl Spackler -

  130. Not sure how this is \”better for the NBA\”? Do you not have \”Due Dilligence\” for scouting players? I know most NBA teams maintain a Scout specifically to make sure that you don\’t trade for a Gin Baker or a chemistry killer. How has a person\’s age ever decided the maturity? Why is the Superstar Machine the NBA has created not the problem? Crowning a 23 yr old the King is great for marketing, but is it good for maturity? How about 22 yr old Dwight Howard? The NBA seems fairly happy making a lot of money off of them.

    Then you look at Bill Self, who signed a 5 year extension with Kansas a year ago, and is now gold-digging again. How is it a sign of maturity that Bill Self can make millions off of these kids, then just walk away when more money is there? Yet Mario Chalmers hasn\’t made dime one yet, and in fact is 10s of thousands of dollars in the whole for injury insurance.

    The problem isn\’t the young players, its ownership like you failing to take responsibility. How much money did you make off of Devin Harris before deciding he was too immature? In that same respect, how much guidance did you really offer the kid? Not guidance about the NBA, but about life and handling yourself?

    The NCAA, the NBA and any college coach should be ashamed of themselves for creating a scenario where you can rob people of whats rightfully their\’s.

    By the way, Kevin Durant, a one and out in college, & jeff Green both claimed they developed a lot maturity in the NBA and have made the decision now to go back to college and get their degrees. Signing an NBA contract and a College Education are not mutually exclusive.

    Comment by Carl Spackler -

  131. Okie, before someone jumps on me, I am not touting Lebron over Wade or vice versa. I wanted to compare a straight out of school player and a college player in the same draft and these two came to mind.

    Comment by anantha -

  132. Mark: Your logic for raising the limit is sound. But *IF* the clause fails to make it into the CBA (owing to the discriminatory nature of the clause, as people say it is), would you be willing to make a personal example and pass over the next Lebron and go for a Wade instead?

    Yes, I know it is a hard decision to make (and a stupid question on my behalf), but just wanted to know if you would be willing to go the distance and blindly back your logic.

    Honestly, while I totally agree with you, I don\’t think the clause has *any* chance of making it into the CBA. As Ron said above, most players go pro early to make sure they\’d rather not get injured in the intervening period should they choose to delay. And any attempt to force them to do otherwise (i.e. delay turning pro) will make the shit hit the fan.

    Comment by anantha -

  133. Do You know this website? :
    Very interesting project. I suggest You to repost Your text there. Your minds should be known to more people. 😉

    Comment by Me -

  134. Right on! Dr. Buss took Magic under his wing when he came out early and it paid dividends for the Lakers. These kids can go to Europe and play if it is a hardship matter. Let them mature over there where it is harder to be hit on by friends and the light doesn\’t shine on them so brightly. It is also time the player\’s union put its money where its mouth is and show they care about these young kids. How about creating mandatory mentor programs enforced by the union? It is also time society held players responsible. K-Mart is pulled over twice in a short period of time for driving way-way above the speed limit and keeps his licenses because he is a star? Where is the accountability? You can\’t expect these kids to be mature when they don\’t have to suffer the consequences of their actionsthat is until it is too late.

    Comment by Chris Scurto -

  135. If you don\’t have to be 22 to make the decision to put your life at risk to defend the country, then why should you have to be 22 to play a game?

    It sounds like the system is the problem, and you are proposing punishing people who have no control over that system. This is just a lazy solution to a deeper problem.

    What about implementing some sort of delayed payment system for younger players? If they are too immature to handle fame and fortune, put some of their pay in some sort of trust fund that they can access when they are older. That might be a good start.

    Comment by Kevin -

  136. While I can\’t disagree with you on the maturity standpoint I think some of the NBA\’s greatest success stories have come from players entering the NBA at young ages. Kobe Bryant, a proud graduate of Lower Merion High School (my high school) created a huge media stir when he decided to join the NBA right out of High School, and he has certainly proved himself as a top player as well as a mature person. Until his unfortunate mishap with a young lady claiming rape, he was generating more ad revenue than most players and bringing more publicity and media coverage to the NBA than any other player had in a long time. Yes, he still would have been great at age 22, but he would have missed out on a success story that will remain with the NBA forever. Should the NBA really deny future super-stars the right to follow in Kobe\’s footsteps?

    Comment by Rich Siegel -

  137. \”They don\’t forget how to play basketball and they don\’t get worse.\”

    If this statement were true, then your argument would make sense. But it\’s not, because of one thing:


    Players get worse all the time. They have major injuries and never recover their explosiveness. And in those cases keeping them out of the NBA is reducing their earning potential by millions of dollars.

    Comment by Ron -

Comments are closed.