Pacers F Jermaine O’Neal, as quoted by Mike Wells in today’s Indianapolis Star.
“In the last two or three years, the Rookie of the Year has been a high school player,” O’Neal said before Monday’s game against Toronto. “There were seven high school players in the All-Star game, so why we even talking (about) an age limit?”
Cleveland’s LeBron James and Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire, both players who made the jump straight from high school, have won the past two Rookie of the Year awards.
O’Neal, who is trying to return from a shoulder injury, made the jump from high school to the NBA in 1996. He didn’t flourish until being traded to the Pacers in 2000.
NBA commissioner David Stern wants to raise the minimum age for the NBA draft from 18 to 20. O’Neal said he would be willing to listen to arguments for raising the age limit.
O’Neal hinted that race is a factor.
“As a black guy, you kind of think (race is) the reason why it’s coming up,” O’Neal said. “You don’t hear about it in baseball or hockey. To say you have to be 20, 21 to get in the league, it’s unconstitutional. If I can go to the U.S. Army and fight the war at 18, why can’t you play basketball for 48 minutes and then go home?”