The NBA has been defending its age-requirement rule -- a good rule that would be even better if another year was added -- after Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) strongly urged the league to scrap it.
The fact that the rule was collectively bargained five years ago doesn't seem to matter to Cohen. Nor does it matter that it's good for the league, good for the fans who watch the league, and good for players currently in the league.
It's a win-win rule, yet Cohen said he will consider congressional hearings and legislation if the requirement isn't dropped from the next CBA.
It's not hard to figure out what was in the letter. It's just common sense, something Congress has struggled with for years when it intervenes in matters where it doesn't belong.
Instead of letting players come directly from high school -- which was stopped after the 2004 Draft -- the league now requires both a year out of high school and a 19-year-old minimum age requirement before a player can be drafted.
It means a little less baby-sitting that the NBA coaches must do. It means players will come with a little more maturity, and a little higher skill level if they attend college or play overseas or in the Development League for a year. It means a better product.
Yes, the best players in the league today -- Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, etc. -- came directly from high school, but if you remember, three of those four weren't much fun to watch that first season because their fundamentals were poor. It would have been better to have them learning the game at Kentucky, North Carolina or Duke.
James doesn't count in this argument because he's a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. He was great from the start. The lack of an age limit worked fine for a number of guys, but it hurt the quality of basketball. It produced too many mistakes, either players who could have benefited from a year or two or three in school, or teams that would have benefited from another year evaluating the skill level.
The fact is that the league executives haven't made as many mistakes evaluating talent since the rule took effect in 2005.
If there was an age limit, Kwame Brown (No. 1 in 2001), Darius Miles (No. 3 in 2000) and Darko Milicic (No. 2 in 2003) would not be considered such disasters because their flaws would have been exposed before they got to the NBA. They would not have been taken in spots so high.
Although the NBA Players Association will act like it wants the age-limit eliminated when negotiations begin, that's only to bargain something else in return. Even it knows the idea is a good one. Raising the age to 20 would be even better.
Too bad a politician can't figure it out.