2011 NBA Draft: Reason Kyrie Irving Should Declare

Byron on SportsCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils holds the ball in the second half while taking on the Hampton Pirates during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If you had a $20 million dollar job offer, after your freshman year of college, would your parents, family, or friends tell you to pass on it? And if your friends did tell you that, would you still consider them your friends? Be honest.

Kyrie Irving is regarded as a top three pick on almost every draft board (if not No. 1) and should declare for the draft. Irving's career path is not that of an accountant or physical trainer. He is going to be a professional basketball player.

Unless you have five or 10 million dollars you're willing to place in an escrowed trust for Kyrie Irving, stop talking about how he "should" return to Duke.

I loved the days that existed before "One and Done" became the standard.  I miss the excitement of college rivalries that featured the same great players going head-to-head for three or four consecutive years. However, the days of playing college basketball for the school pride and love of the game, have been destroyed by financial incentives and a punitive NCAA rule system.

Consider the Financial Implications

Top tier draft prospects have a lot of incentive to declare early. Despite the NBA claims that they want players to "go to college" and "stay in school," the contract incentives tell another story entirely.

Look at the present rookie salary scale at three years income: 

Draft Position

Three Years of Salary (at 2010 Rates)















The success of Derick Rose, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul has teams salivating for the "Next Great Point Guard." And, they will gladly pay for anyone who appears to have the potential to get them 20 points and 10 assists in their first or second year as a pro.

If Irving is picked 2nd this year.


If Irving is picked 7th next year.


Absolute Three-Year Financial Loss.


Then, add endorsement contracts—which he will get whether or not there is an NBA lockout.

If he does not declare, he loses the first year of earnings for a relatively short career—forever. Athletes, compared to most workers in the country, do not have a long shelf life and make most of their money in their 20's.

Each Year in College Costs Top NBA Prospects More Money in the Long Run

Under the current CBA, the amount of money players can make is capped out according to the number of years they have been in the league. So, each year in college costs a player more money later in their career.

So, a player like Kobe Bryant, who will make $24,806,250 in NBA salary this year, would only (if that word can be here without  maniacal laughter) be able to make about $18 million this year if he attended college.

In the latter stages of a professional basketball career, a premier player on max contract in the NBA would experience a real loss of $4 million to $7 million per year, simply as a consequence of attending college for four years. They lose potential earnings every year for, essentially, the duration of their career. 

Staying in college has a massive punitive financial effect on real and projected lifetime earnings.

Should Irving Stay in College to Win a Championship or Get a Degree?

There are some pundits who say he should stay and win a championship at Duke, because it will make him more marketable. There is some validity to such a claim.

However, Duke is not likely to be better next year.  Winning a NCAA championship is a very difficult task that all teams, but one, fail to complete every single year. And trust me—they all want to win.

What is Kyrie Irving's college major? Go look at the Duke Bio Page. His major is not even listed. Do you know why? No one cares.

Only thing I could find was that he was seeking a major in Journalism. 

Who really goes to Duke to major in Journalism without their parents having a conniption fit? There are worse college majors—like Art History and Music Therapy.  But there is a reason most Journalism majors do not work in journalism.

Some graduates make a lot of money with the degree, but most find better-paying jobs where they eventually find they could have done the job even without the formal degree.

Whatever the case, the odds are that more former Journalism majors will read this than top five NBA first round draft picks. How can I be so confident in this conclusion? Because there are thousands of journalism graduates for each NBA lottery pick. Simple deduction.

Those out there who argue Irving should return to Duke for his education, should realize that he can easily complete his coursework on the $20 million he is pretty much guaranteed to make as a professional basketball player.

If he cannot learn how to set up a blog with $20 million dollars, something is wrong—even more justification for declaring for the draft now. 

So, go put your $5 million or, better yet, $10 million in an escrowed trust and make preparations to sign it over to Kyrie Irving next year, while he prepares to become the next Skip Bayless or Walter Cronkite.

It is a farce to think, or even suggest, that Duke granted Kyrie Irving a scholarship because of his immense potential as a journalist. I'm sure they would love for him to stay in school and graduate from their fine university.

Almost all of the financial incentive for Kyrie Irving to stay, will find a comfortable place in the coffers of the Duke University and NCAA.  Very little will trickle down. There are university and NCAA policies against improving the financial condition of players and their families.

You can also pay for an insurance policy in case of injury or a bumper crop draft class or a poor performance at Duke next season, that somehow knocks him out of the lottery entirely.

Help him see that you are just as committed to his success as he is.

Farce: Kyrie Irving Has an Obligation to the Duke Program

There are some out there who feel Kyrie has some sort of obligation to the Duke program. Explain that? Duke was going to make money off Kyrie Irving, and Irving was going to be prevented from making any decent money at all—even if it was through his own efforts and ingenuity.

How much is Duke and the NCAA going to pay him to return? They can't even buy him a used car.  Irving has to make sure no member of his family, including himself, nor the great nation of Australia, or anyone he associates with, mysteriously comes into any sum money or improve their financial circumstances in any way.

Because if they do, the NCAA will look to suspend him and possibly Duke. (Look at Perry Jones, Enes Kanter, O.J. Mayo, Reggie Bush, Cam Newton, and many others...)

The possibility that his draft stock could fall is very real.

Kyle Singler saw his draft stock fall as a consequence of returning to Duke. He might not regret it, but it looks like a bad business decision.

Tyler Hansbrough stayed at North Carolina and watched his draft position fall.

Greg Oden could have returned to college, gotten hurt there a couple seasons, and been drafted in the second round. Do you think he regrets declaring early?

Do you think Kwame Brown regrets skipping college?

Irving is so highly ranked on draft boards, that there is more downside to returning to Duke than upside. People who say otherwise are thinking about many things, but Kyrie Irving's well-being is almost certainly not one of them.


Kyrie Irving should declare for the draft and stay as far away from motorcycles as possible, for three years. Lest, he become the next Jay Williams.

Let's say a player is projected as a top three pick in the NBA, before he suits up to play his first college game. He then gets injured after eight games, and sees that it has no effect on his draft prospects for that year.  Common sense says you should move on—before the General Managers get off the pipe and start looking for the "Next, Next Big Thing."

In a year or two, there will be a guy coming out of high school with the hype saying, "He's like Kyrie Irving, but more athletic..." Or, "He's like Kyrie Irving, but bigger and has better court vision." That is the kind of talk that makes a guy lose three or four draft positions.

Do you know what scouts are looking for every time they see Kyrie Irving play?  They are looking for weaknesses.  He is already projected as a top three pick in the draft.

The teams that will draft in that position are looking for reasons they should pass, because they already know why they should take him. He's is so well-regarded that he is unable to improve his stock.

Telling Kyrie that he should go back to college is about the same as telling Bill Gates that he should have returned to college for a year or two and worked on that Master's Degree instead of starting Microsoft.

The same folks would tell Justin Beiber that he should focus on finishing high school instead of going on tour.


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