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Walden: It's all downhill from here for old man Shabazz Muhammad
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There are plenty of fascinating and disturbing revelations in the L.A. Times' profile of UCLA basketball star Shabazz Muhammad and his professional puppeteer of a father, Ron Holmes, whose scheming might be considered Machiavellian were its scope not limited to basketball instead of geopolitical domination.

Then again, LeBron James makes tens of millions more every year than Barack Obama, so who am I to question the direction of Holmes' ambitions?

Among the more notable tidbits from the Times:

• Holmes, a former college basketball player, took thoroughbred breeding into account in his relationships and chose his future wife, a point guard, sprinter and hurdler at Cal State Long Beach, because they would one day "make some All-Americans."

• Holmes chose his children's names on the basis of them being "marketable worldwide."

• Holmes instructed Shabazz to play at UCLA because it had little depth and he would be the unquestioned star there, whereas at Duke or Kentucky, he'd have to share the spotlight.

There's some certifiable dirtbaggery going on there.

However, of far more interest to EVERYONE, it would appear, was the revelation that, at some point, Holmes shaved a year off Muhammad's age, and that the college freshman and heretofore assumed NBA lottery pick is actually 20 years old instead of 19.

Cue the air raid sirens — we've got a catastrophe here!

• "There's no denying … that a 19-year-old Muhammad is more attractive to NBA scouts than a 20-year-old Muhammad," noted Gary Parrish of CBSsports.com.

• "NBA teams obviously prefer younger players, which is a big reason 22-year-old Damian Lillard slipped to No. 6 in last year's draft. Advancing a year in age will be especially questioned for Muhammad. … Is he just taking advantage of playing younger competition?" wrote ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman.

The one-year discrepancy was sufficiently serious business that Holmes attempted to bribe the Times writer with an offer of becoming Muhammad's publicist in exchange for burying the news.

I don't doubt there are NBA personnel who now consider Muhammad a lesser prospect. I also don't doubt these people are charlatans and hypocrites.

First off, I don't ever want to hear another NBA exec talk about the necessity of the age limit in place, especially considering no college senior has been drafted No. 1 overall since Kenyon Martin in 2000.

Secondly, is it that difficult to realize that a college player facing other college players is not the same as 14-year-old Danny Almonte dominating 12-year-olds in the Little League World Series?

What a world we live in when a guy who's not yet old enough to legally drink is already considered past his prime.

ewalden@sltrib.com

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