- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

The wimpy-minded commentators of America apparently believe Greg Oden and Kevin Durant have it so tough.

These two freshmen stars are dealing with the unthinkable pressure of either staying in college or accepting the riches of the NBA.

You are urged not to snicker at this point.

Oden and Durant must decide whether to return to their thrones in college basketball or, darn it, ink a multimillion-dollar contract with the NBA.

There you have it: the tough destiny before Oden and Durant.

And it is really, really tough if they are repeatedly asked to reveal their immediate plans.

Imagine that. There are people who actually care to know the summer plans of Oden and Durant. Isn’t that awful? Just think if they were not basketball players, no one other than their family would care one iota about their plans.

The line is forming now for those looking to sign up for this threadbare existence.

Let’s see here: hang out in college another year or take the money and run.

Most of us have never been in this position, because we either were not skilled or tall enough. But it is not a position anyone with two brain cells would find objectionable.

Oden and Durant are poised to make it in a way that plenty of people in the rest of the world would find incredible.

You mean all you have to be able to do is toss the orange ball through the orange cylinder and you will be set for life?

That is pretty much it.

Other companies will be throwing money in the direction of Oden and Durant whenever they decide to go to the NBA.

LeBron James cut a big-money deal with Nike before the NBA Draft in 2003.

This is not to dismiss what a freshman in college might consider demanding. More than a few consider a midterm exam to be one of life’s ultimate challenges. Little do they know that there will come a day when the pain of a midterm exam looks silly.

We in the media business should know better, although we are programmed to frame story lines around overcoming challenges, hardships and confrontations.

In the case of Oden and Durant, the obvious question is: Do we live in a great country or what?

Tough? Are you kidding?

Oden and Durant have hit the genetic jackpot.

As for the questions coming their way, we all should be so lucky to have those hanging on our every word.

Oden and Durant should see this time as one massive celebration of the self.

They should recall that J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison were the toast of college basketball last March.

But now both have basically fallen off the basketball screen in the NBA.

They are just two more faces trying to find their way in the pro game.

Quick. What are their scoring averages this season?

Joakim Noah was only too eager to dismiss the skeptics on Selection Sunday, forgetting for a moment the alternative to those passionate enough to question the Gators after they stumbled late in the regular season.

The alternative, of course, would be apathy, which would not be good for Florida basketball and the NCAA tournament.

This is not to be overly judgmental with Noah. He is young. His world is small. Give him another 10 or 15 years’ worth of maturity. He might have a clue by then. Or not.

For the record, the stay/go quandary is so last century.

One argument does not fit all.

All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal and James did not attend one day of college.

A college education is not unimportant in the workaday world.

But the NBA is hardly the workaday world.

Oden and Durant, whenever they leave college, will be rewarded with vast sums of money that most of us never will see in a lifetime of 40-hour work weeks.

Now that is tough.

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