Hope NBA Commissioner David Stern, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and their elegantly suited minions are happy in their plush, palatial New York offices.

Their stupid, senseless, dumb and dictatorial rules may have just robbed two talented young athletes of their financial futures.

If I’m University of Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel and I never fully recover from a severe knee injury suffered earlier this week in a loss to the Florida Gators, I’d sue Stern, the NBA and the NBA Players Association for the $200 million Noel might have made in the course of his professional career.

Noel was projected by many to be the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but he went down in a heap at UF’s O’Connell Center Tuesday night, grabbing his knee and screaming in agony after landed awkwardly following a blocked shot.

“It was gruesome,” Florida center Patric Young said after the game was over and Noel had been taken from the building in a wheelchair. Noel was later diagnosed with a season-ending ruptured ACL in his left knee.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Young added.

Well, Stern ought to think long and hard about the inane one-and-done rule that forced Noel to play college basketball in the first place. It would be one thing if Noel had been hurt after signing a mega-million-dollar contract with the Magic, but it’s inexcusable that he has risked his future masquerading for one year as a college “student-athlete.”

Why does the NBA _ and the NFL for that matter _ continue to force basketball players to go to college when they have no intention or desire to be there? If an elite athlete wants to play in the NBA _ or the NFL for that matter_he should be able to go pro whenever he wants.

“I don’t understand how we can keep an 18-year-old from earning a living in his chosen profession,” former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says. “I don’t even understand how it’s legal and not a violation of federal law. Kids can play hockey for money, baseball for money, work at McDonald’s, start their own business, but they can’t play NBA basketball. I don’t get it.”

We won’t even get into how the one-and-done rule is a perversion of what college athletics is supposed to be about. We could spend three columns writing about how universities prostitute their real mission as educational institutions of higher learning to become athletic prostitution of higher earning.

But today is about how despicable it is that the NBA and NFL forces kids to put their financial future at stake just so they can preserve their unholy alliance with college sports.

Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen wrote a thought-provoking piece the other day suggesting Jadeveon Clowney, the monster defensive end from South Carolina, should consider sitting out his junior season this year, signing with an agent and preparing for next year’s NFL draft.

Why? Because Clowney, after two seasons of college, has already solidified himself as a top-5 NFL draft pick. But, of course, the NFL has a rule that players must be three years removed from high school before they are eligible to be drafted.

Why should Clowney risk his future by coming back and playing for the Gamecocks next season? What if he wrecks his body like his South Carolina teammate _ running back Marcus Lattimore _ did. Lattimore probably would have been a first-round draft pick after a stellar freshman season, but he tore up one knee as a sophomore and shredded the other knee as a junior. Now, he probably won’t even be drafted.

Van Gundy is right. How is it that hockey players, baseball players, tennis players and golfers can turn pro right after high school, but basketball and football players cannot? Could it be because college football and college basketball provides a free minor-league system for the NFL and NBA and unlimited marketing for the future stars of those leagues?

“We’re calling these kids student-athletes, but they’re not,” says high-powered Orlando attorney John Morgan. “They’re professional athletes forced to play for free in a minor league called the NCAA. It’s indentured servitude for the college athletes. The NBA, the NFL and the NCAA are in collusion. Everybody is making a lot of money but the kids.”

Hope David Stern, Roger Goodell and their minions are happy.

Here’s hoping Nerlens Noel and Marcus Lattimore sue the smiles right off their faces.

This editorial appeared in The Orlando Sentinel on Feb., 18, 2013. Retrieved from MCT Campus.

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