SALT LAKE CITY — If there’s one thing Richard Jefferson has shown during his season in Utah, it’s that the outspoken athlete isn’t afraid of giving his opinion.
At Thursday’s practice, the Jazz small forward was asked if NCAA players declaring early for the draft and the league’s age limit hurt the NBA. Two minutes and 22 seconds later (an eternity for an answer to one question) Jefferson finally came up for a breath after an extended rant.
Here are some of the main points by Jefferson (who, by the way, left Arizona after his junior year for the NBA back in 2001):
— “One-hundred percent. The league has definitely been hurt by the age limit (currently 19). The one-and-done is so terrible. There are certain guys that should be able to come out of high school. LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant). At the end of the day, this is professional sports. They’re going to weed out the people that aren’t good enough.”
— “That type of mentality — (going to college for) one year or two years — it’s affecting college basketball, it’s affecting pro sports, and it’s just not good. Why can’t they come straight out? Because the colleges want some of them (top players) so they can get some money.
"But it’s tough on the colleges because you get these kids in there for one year and all of a sudden they’re gone, but, yeah, it’s all about money. No one really cares if anyone comes straight out of high school for baseball. No one cares if people turn professional straight out of (high school for) tennis. No one cares about that. Why? Because they don’t make money for the colleges. It’s simple. Who makes money for the colleges? Football, basketball.”
— “It’s America. It’s free enterprise. You should be able to do whatever you want. But because it’s about money, it’s about generating revenue, the NBA and college are all in it together. (New commissioner) Adam Silver said, ‘Yeah, the NBA wouldn’t mind giving money to the NCAA.’ They’re all in it together.”
— “I respect the NBA. I respect the NCAA. I think the NCAA should come up with a different program. Not saying they should pay athletes, but the program is flawed. You can’t have the same program for 50 years, for 60 years (with) TV revenues all of the jersey sales, all of the ticket prices, million-dollar coaches, million-dollar ADs.”
— “The person that runs the NCAA makes almost $2 million a year and it’s a nonprofit organization. Well, if it’s nonprofit, give yourself three-hundred grand or go somewhere else. If you’re working for a nonprofit, you shouldn’t get paid millions of dollars, not including all of the perks that you get from traveling and going places, all of the free tickets that you get. Not saying that the guy doesn’t work hard and is not qualified, but why don’t you put the money back into the organization if it’s really a nonprofit organization?”
INJURY UPDATE: Forward Marvin Williams (left knee bone bruise) did not participate in practice Thursday and is listed as being doubtful to play Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Williams tried to play on his injured leg in Tuesday’s game, but left after an eight-minute stint.