I wish that this was some kind of belated April Fool’s joke that I unearthed and decided to post on this mundane late August day. But it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Far from it. Manny Pacquiao is a professional basketball player. He’s also the head coach of the team that drafted him in the Philippine Basketball Association. But that’s a story for another day. I can’t handle that much hilarity for one story.
I have nothing against Manny Pacquiao wanting to play pro ball. Really, I don’t. If he wants to play, coach or do whatever else he thinks he wants to do, then God bless him. But just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. My problem lies on how a lot of people embrace this notion just because he is who he is in the Philippines; he can circumvent the supposed system young collegiate basketball players use to realize their dreams of playing professional basketball.
Pacquio entering the draft and then getting picked in the first freakin’ round of said draft is a slap in the face to any self-respecting basketball fan in the Philippines. Anybody who thinks differently, who thinks that something like this is okay, needs to get their head examined.
Something like this is fine in a local rec league, maybe even a semi-professional league. But the PBA? The supposed oldest and most prestigious professional basketball league in Asia?
How about upholding your standards, the same standards you proudly beat your chests with whenever somebody decries the supposed lack of competition in your league? Is that too much to ask?
Better yet, how about protecting young basketball players and their dreams and goals of making it into the PBA? Is it fair to these kids that they work hard their entire lives just to get to the PBA only to see a 35-year old professional boxer find himself getting drafted in the first round because he’s Manny Pacquiao? Most of these players don’t even make it that far and yet Pacquiao can wake up one day, decide he wants to play (and coach!) in the PBA, and everybody and anybody moves heaven and earth just to make it happen.
It’s not just about players either. How about those young tacticians who strive to be head coaches in the PBA someday? It’s completely nuts that they bust their asses trying to move up the ladder only to see Pacquiao riding up the elevator with glorified cheerleaders cheering him on like he’s the second coming of Red Auerbach.
While I’m at it, I need to give Bobby Pacquiao a lot of credit for withdrawing his name from the draft. Can you imagine if he got drafted with his brother to play in the PBA while younger and better players are left out because they don’t carry the same last name? Good for you, Bobby. You have gained a new fan.
Before I get side-tracked, the PBA also reportedly bent its own rules to accommodate Pacquiao after he failed to submit the required biometrics measurements during the agreed-upon deadline at the combine. You think the PBA would grant this level of acquiescence if it was another player who missed this deadline?
Manny Pacquiao doesn’t need the PBA any more than the PBA needs Pacquiao. Both have been successful without the other and there’s no reason why both parties can’t prosper on what they’re good at. Pacquiao’s one of the best boxers in the world. Hell, he’s one of the best ever. At the same time, the PBA is a well-regarded pro basketball league in the world. Has been for years.
However, the way the PBA has openly embraced Pacquiao’s plan to become a player-coach in the league is not only incomprehensibly embarrassing for the league but it’s a direct insult to the credibility it has tried to protect all these years.
In the Philippines, there’s a term called pambababoy. It basically means shitting on one’s character and belief, or something along those lines. In this particular instance, there’s no more appropriate term to describe what the league that once had the slogan “Only the Best Player Here” is doing now.