Who know who’s happiest about the whole Jeremy Tyler-to-Haifa Heat story? Rick Pitino. After all, the moralizing/speculating tales about Tyler represent the only chance stories of certain excesses in the University of Louisville head coach’s lifestyle will be bumped from the basketball world’s front pages and homepages.
Yes, it’s a feeding frenzy for basketball media, particularly in Israel and the ‘States. A brief summary of some indignation and wonder on Tyler from the blogosphere.
Analysis from JPost.com reckons that “Haifa has already got its money’s worth in publicity, which may well have always been the motivation behind the signing of the San Diego High star.” May have been? *May* have been? Is this a question? Hell, here’s writer Allon Sinai’s own third paragraph: “Even five consecutive Euroleague triumphs would have not gotten Rosen’s Haifa the priceless publicity brought by the acquisition of Tyler.”
Um, five consecutive Euroleague triumphs? That’d get a tad bit of publicity, methinks.
Hyperbole of the week (thus far), though, might go to the headline writer over at J Weekly, who crafted the title “NBA age requirement a boon for Israeli Basketball League” for sportswriter Michael Lazarus’ reportage. A boon? Because one under-aged American signed? Hmmm…
The lead of the week (thus far) has got to be this excellent summation from Jerry Mittlemann over at Haaretz.com: “Maccabi Tel Aviv might be the basketball team of the nation but lately it’s been Maccabi Haifa that has been making bold moves and headlines.” True: Last season, one-and-done USC baller Devon Jefferson came to Haifa and electrified Israeli basketball. This off-season, the most crucial transactions over at Tel Aviv have been the departures of Lior Eliyahu, Omri Casspi and (maybe) Carlos Arroyo.
Mittlemann continues with a salient and interesting point: “Unlike [with Brandon] Jennings, Tyler’s move abroad was motivated by a desire to develop his game, rather than by financial considerations. In fact, he turned down a bigger offer from Ljubljana, among others, to come to Israel. The opportunity to play internationally without the added pressure of the Euroleague could prove to be a wise move on Tyler’s behalf.”
Over at Yahoo.com, at least one blogger is not impressed. I think it’s got mostly to do with the lack of a multi-million dollar endorsement deal.
Finally, it wouldn’t be American sports reportage without a little moralizing. To be fair, Tyler is seriously rolling the dice here in a way that even the non-studying college playing doesn’t. A serious enough injury would threaten to set back this young man’s *life* with a critical paucity of education. Tyler may be “bored” with the level of play in San Diego-area high schools, but imagine how bored he might become in this 27th year of menial labor.
On the other hand, is Tyler really “being led down a path to a nightmare”? Is this move really “not a good thing for anyone”?
I mean, shouldn’t we have a little faith in Tyler’s agent B.J. Armstrong in his belief that this high-schooler is for real? Or is the business of basketball simply too cynical to allow for the honest development of talent over hype?
And in the end, Tyler may represent more than a pioneering enterprise within European basketball: It could ultimately lay bare much about the business of the international game. We can only hope, it seems, that Tyler doesn’t get left by the wayside.