According to this article on The Examiner, Jimmer Fredette wants a chance to take on Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker in front of the Utah Jazz talent evaluators next week. Both Walker and Knight are widely expected to decline Fredette's challenge.
This got me to thinking -- what if pro prospects stood up and said, "I'll take on all comers. Bring. It. On." You know, the kind of fearless bravado that you would normally expect from young people overflowing with basketball talent and testosterone. Only the cold, calculating bean-counting eye of an agent, allegedly fearful for his young charge's draft position (but in actuality more concerned about the size of his commission check) could keep the otherwise supremely confident Knight and Walker from telling Fredette to prepare for an unforgettable lesson in what the term "smack-down" means.
I don't want to hear about the business crap. I want to hear about the basketball. I want to see talented players jump fearlessly into the arena of sport with the absolute conviction that they will show everyone present that they are the best.. Since when did a reasonable challenge, especially a legitimately valuable one for both the team and the player, get trumped by a chess match between accountants?
I'm hopelessly old-fashioned, I know, and yes, it could hurt Knight or Walker or Fredette in the eyes of the pro scouts. So what? I think challenges by one projected high draft pick to another another high draft pick to prove who's the best ought to be accepted every time except in the case of injury. Maybe the teams will start ponying up a bonus for that kind of effort, or something else to take the sting out losing a spot or two in the lottery. Maybe the league should just flat tell them that they will be persona non grata in the NBA unless they accept such challenges. Think that will work? Nah, me neither.
Oh, well. I guess we're stuck with the boring, hum-drum, opponent-dodging fraidy-cat game of "hide and seek the big sweet dollars" draft prospects. Maybe they'll find their "Kwan" that way. But I think it's unmanly.
Alternatively, perhaps we can get their agents to fight it out in a last-man-standing match using old-school Muay Thai rules with hands wrapped in cord and dipped in resin and broken glass. If you tell them the prize is the loser's commission, I'll bet they'd do it.
Is it too much to hope for that one of these three excellent prospects will defy their agent and take up the gauntlet Fredette has thrown down? Yeah, probably.
But wouldn't that be nice for a change?