NBA Players Going Back To School During Lockout
1 year ago
College dropouts return to campus during work stoppage
While NBA players Matt Barnes and Michael Beasley are making headlines for getting into fights at high-profile pickup games during the lockout, some of their peers are actually spending their time off hitting the books.
Former UCLA students-turned-ballers Russell Westbook, Kevin Love, Trevor Ariza and Baron Davis are just four among a small crop of NBA players coming back to school as they wait to see if they will have jobs this fall. The moves come in partial credit to UCLA’s athletics assistant director of academic services Kenny Donaldson. Over the years he stayed in former players' ears, encouraging them to return to college at some point to eventually earn their degrees. Seeing as how they have the money to pay for tuition and books, he figured it made all the sense in the world.
“When the lockout looked like it was going to be a definite thing, I kind of sat down with each of them and laid out a game plan,” Donaldson told Yahoo! Sports. “You don’t want to get them back in something that they’re not going to be interested in. I presented them with options and they found classes that they thought would be interesting, and are easing back into it right now.”
Ariza, who admits that school was never the priority when he was enrolled, said that he is actually having fun again being a college student.
“I’m really going back for my two sons,” he said. “Eventually they’re going to realize that their dad fulfilled his dreams doing what he wanted to do and still got his degree. For them to see that will be a great example for them to follow ... We have a whole lot of our lives to live after basketball,” Ariza said. “We have to understand what we want to do when [retirement] comes. A lot of us came out [of college] really young, and we have no idea what we want to do with our lives if basketball doesn’t work out.”
In addition to these guys, former LSU standout Anthony Randolph who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves has moved back to Baton Rouge to take classes next semester and even hopes to help out with the basketball teams coaching staff. Another former LSU athlete, ex-NFL quarterback Jamarcus Russell made news earlier this week when it was revealed that he was going back to school as well.
Not to be left out, University of Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari tweeted that three of his former players, 2010 #1 draft pick John Wall, Boston Celtics star Rajon Rondo and Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe were returning to school as well.
When choosing to go back to school, time and convenience are definitely factors. Back in 2001, Vince Carter, who played for the Toronto Raptors at the time, caught flack for leaving his team during the playoffs so that he could be in his graduation ceremony at the University of North Carolina. While he did return from the commencement in time to play in a game later that evening, he missed a game winning shot, leading many to blame the loss on his choice to walk.
With no end of the NBA lockout in sight, no one should mind these guys focusing on academics for the time being. Too bad the NFL players couldn't be more productive with their time off.