Friday, February 15, 2013

The Nerlens Noel Case Study

On Tuesday Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season.  It is a devastating injury that has caused a ripple effect throughout the college basketball world.  From the mind of an over analytical sports enthusiast this story is compelling on many levels.  Depending on how you look at it the Noel injury has a different meaning.

The cynical perspective:

I guess he'll have to start going to that biology class he's been skipping for the last 3 weeks.  Don't think David Stern will be calling his name this June.  The John Calipari recruiting speech suddenly has to add an injury clause to the verbiage.  All you one and done guys better stop counting your chickens before they hatch.

The paranoid perspective:

You saw what happened to Noel.  Forget North Carolina, I'm going overseas when I graduate from high school.  I gotta get my cheese while there's still time.  I gotta strike while the iron is hot and my stock is on the rise.  I got too much to lose and you never know what can happen.  Nothing in life is guaranteed.

The rival perspective:

Now that Kentucky doesn't have Big Noel in the middle they are vulnerable.  I wasn't going to buy tickets to the SEC tournament before, but now our team has a legitimate shot to win.  We don't wish bad things on anyone and Nerlens seems like a good kid, but Kentucky's loss is our gain.  They get whatever they want most of the time so you can't feel too bad for their misfortune.

The purist perspective:

This is why we are advocates of the student/athlete model.  Go to school for 4 years, become part of the campus culture, enjoy the college experience, and earn your degree.  Even if you don't make the pros you have something to fall back on.  Nerlens Noel was projected to be a top 5 pick.  What about now?  Will he ever be the same player?  If he's been taking his education seriously he's created an insurance policy for himself.

When it's all said and done I hope this kid comes back good as new and gets the chance to continue pursuing his dream of becoming an NBA player.  His injury serves as a stark reminder that life comes at you fast and your path to success is not always linear.  There are bumps in the road and obstacles to navigate and overcome.  Good luck Nerlens Noel.

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