St. John’s University men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin said all the right things last week in support of Moe Harkless’ decision to forego the rest of his college eligibility in order, he hopes, to join the NBA next season. Lavin joked about hiding in the bushes on campus screaming “One Moe year!” whenever he’d spot his star player walking to class.
Harkless, a star at Forest Hills High School, only played one year for the Red Storm but as a freshman won the Big East Rookie of the Year Award. That accomplishment, combined with a terrific show in St. John’s lone game at the Big East Tournament, should be enough to get Harkless drafted in the first round.
On the other hand, Red Storm fans will remember how star freshman point guard Omar Cook left the Johnnies 10 years ago to pursue an NBA career. Cook was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round, missing out on the big money. He bounced around the league briefly and had to settle for playing in Europe where he still makes a living.
The same can be said for Holy Cross High alum Sylven Landesberg, who was named to the McDonald’s High School All American team in 2008. Landesberg spent two years at the University of Virginia and left for both academic reasons and his chance at pro glory. The NBA did not show much interest in him, and now he plays in Israel for Maccabi Haifa.
Since the risk of injury is always part of sports, it’s grossly unfair to criticize any amateur athlete who wants to turn pro. The reality, however, is that Moe will be facing more than the usual competition for a slot in the NBA’s vaunted first round. A number of talented players who would have opted out of college last year decided to stay in the NCAA due to the likelihood of an NBA lockout. The same can be said of some top European players, many of whom most of us had never heard of until a couple of days before the NBA Draft.
In the latest NBA contract, the league agrees to fully pay the tuition of players who return to college to complete their degree, or go to graduate school. Moe’s mom, Rosa Harkless, told the press she will make sure her son gets his bachelor’s degree, though he has her blessing to leave school now.
I have to chuckle at how the Daily News, which has a business relationship with the Mets’ cable outlet, SNY, tried to make the Wilpons look like the big winner and Madoff victims’ trustee Irving Picard the big loser, when the parties agreed to an 11th-hour settlement just as their trial was about to begin.
Picard knew there was a good chance that even if he got awarded the full $300 million he sought, it would take years at best to collect, given appeals. A guaranteed $162 million instead isn’t exactly chump change.
As I also pointed out two weeks ago, the last thing that the Mets’ ownership wanted was to testify in a court of law where the odds are that they would have appeared to be bumblers at best or criminals at worst. In short, it was a no-win situation.