Last night, the Sacramento Kings hosted a panel discussion on issues related to the past, present and future of the NBA. Along with Geoff Petrie and Keith Smart, the “Generations Basketball” forum featured a duo of NBA greats – Bill Walton and Oscar Robertson, who is in Sacramento being honored tonight for the 50th anniversary of his triple-double season.
Among the topics discussed was this debate on the one-and-done athlete, with Walton and Robertson falling on opposing sides of the aisle.
Bill Walton: The NBA doesn’t want this to happen. The NCAA, they don’t want that to happen. It’s the Player’s Association. It’s Billy Hunter that’s arguing for players who aren’t even in his own union who are not paying dues. And I think that’s a huge mistake.
Oscar Robertson: First of all, that’s not a mistake. First of all, I think it’s illegal to tell a young man that he has to spend a year out (in college) after his 18th birthday for him to play basketball (professionally). He can go to the army, fight in Afghanistan?
Bill Walton: We don’t let them buy liquor. We don’t let them into night clubs.
Oscar Robertson: Can they smoke at 18?
(Walton is momentarily left speechless)
Bill Walton: I don’t smoke.
Oscar Robertson: All (these) rules about one-and-done and after your freshman year is to benefit the colleges. Tell this for me – (Greg) Oden, when he came out of Ohio State, it’s unfortunate he’s got all these problems, he didn’t need to go to Ohio State to play. Could’ve gone right in and played right away. But this is done so colleges can take advantage of a young person for one year if he’s a great player. And that’s all it’s for.
Keith Smart: I also think the year we won the championship, I made “the shot”, it never dawned on me that I wanted to come to the NBA. Many said, “You should’ve made the shot and ran straight out of the Superdome and straight to New York and waited for the draft.” But it never hit my mind – I loved college, I enjoyed college and I had fun in college.
Oscar Robertson: But that’s true because now there’s a vehicle (for) the players to take advantage of it. If the vehicle wasn’t there, they couldn’t go. And I don’t know why everyone gets so upset about it. If you don’t want a player who’s a one year and done, don’t take him. Don’t sign him because a lot of guys are not going to be great basketball players. And really what Procter & Gamble should do is give them all diapers.
After the jump, listen to audio of the debate.