I had a lively debate on Facebook last night (Feb. 10) after the UK Wildcats pulled out a 2-point win over LSU, keeping their perfect record perfect.
A friend in Madison, Ind., who I respect as a person and as a musician, was dogging UK for what he called the school's "NBA breeding ground." Although he said he wasn't being personal, his comments like, "Screw Kentucky. Screw Calipari," and so forth, sounded pretty personal to me.
He wondered about the players' SAT scores and GPAs. I don't know about SATs, but their GPAs are actually pretty good — 3.129 for the fall semester, which I pointed out with delight to my buddy.
For his comparison to coaching styles, he used none other than Bobby Knight, who, he said, boasted a 100 percent graduation rate for his players. Yes, but Bobby Knight? The coach who threw chairs and struck his players? The coach who had so many fits of anger that IU finally fired him? Was he a winning coach? Yes, definitely. Was he a good coach? Nope.
Truth is, Bobby Knight was from a different era, when there were no one-and-done players — even for UK. Had that trend started a few years earlier, I'm sure there would be some Hoosiers in there, too.
And speaking of Hoosiers, remember the movie? A drunk-turned-high school coach worked to take a team of unlikely players to the state tournament — not to the state academic tournament. They, too, were about winning. Period.
I pointed out to my friend that I, too, don't like the one-and-done mentality, but until the NCAA or NBA changes the rules, I plan to embrace that concept and happily watch UK dominate the game for as long as they can.
Then I thought about our debate that night and the following day. I thought about why kids go to college and what a one-and-done actually accomplishes. College is to train a person for what he or she plans to do for money the rest of his or her life, right? College should put that person on a path to become successful.
The first-year salary for the 30th pick NBA player is $911,400.
I'm probably not going to make as much as most NBA players in my lifetime, so which one of us is more successful?
One could argue that success should be defined by more than dollars. True to an extent, but who's to say that these guys don't have those other qualities by which success is measured? And they're rich.
The bottom line is we all work to earn money to buy things. If you had unlimited finances, would you go to your job every day? I'd travel, enjoy my hobbies, give generously to my church and other charities of my choice, and enjoy life as an independently wealthy man.
I'm 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and 59 years old. I don't hear the NBA knocking on my door. I'll be wealthy if I win the lottery, but until then, I'll keep plugging every day and making the best of my many, many blessings.
And for now, GO CATS! Here's to 40-0, no matter what they think across the river.
Writer James Mulcahy
spent 35 years as a newspaper journalist at small and large papers. He is currently a freelance photographer/writer/graphics designer, and he drives a school bus.