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    COLUMN: Pursuit of diploma a win-win for young Kai Sotto

    Apr 2, 2021
    PHOTO: Ervin Sotto's Facebook page
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    CHICAGO - One of my greatest regrets in life was dropping out of college after a few mischief-laden semesters that included a suspension from a university where I turned on the fire hydrant during a Tanduay-inspired, midday madness.

    So I was thrilled to know that Kai Sotto picked and rolled with a high school diploma yesterday. Education is still the best set play in the game of life.

    While interviewing a couple of former NBA coaches last year - P.J. Carlesimo of the Spurs and the Bulls' Karen Umlauf - they mentioned the lack of brawn and mobility as some of the things Kai needs to work on.

    Fair enough.

    But the 7-foot-3 wunderkind gets an A from me for jumping over this giant academic hurdle. And he deserves an A-plus for his remarkable agility in juggling school and gym work.

    Sometimes lost in our fascination over Kai and his NBA dream is the fact that he is only an 18-year old kid who can't legally buy beer or cigarettes here in the U.S., or enter a strip club, a known paradise among countless NBA players.

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    While his basketball journey had been riddled with sorry missteps in recent months, this straight and sure path to school is commendable.

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    Of course, making it to the NBA is swell, what with the fame and fortune it entails. But a college degree is also a lifetime achievement. And here's hoping Kai pursues that, too.

    Not only would a diploma better himself once he enters the workforce as an adult, it would serve as an inspiration to the millions of Filipino kids back home who want to be Kai.

    Considering that he never got to play a single game with the G League Ignite, I wondered if Sotto is still eligible to become a student-athlete in the NCAA.

    "No sir," was the abrupt reply of an NBA super agent that I texted this morning.

    A veteran NBA scout had similar doubts, "slim to none," he told me over the phone while preparing to scout today's Nuggets-Clippers game at Staples Center.

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    Because terms of his Ignite contract were not disclosed, there is no way to ascertain if Kai is qualified to receive a G-League Ignite perk which is a $200,000 college grant at Arizona State University.

    It's also unclear if that clause is even enforceable given how the parties parted ways.

    But I don't think the above circumstances will greatly impact his march to a diploma of higher learning. Kai has shown the willingness and a way will be found.

    I will be cheering for him as he goes along.

    PRIVATE TROUBLE. While I may not have a badge to show as a member of the social media police, etiquette tells me that a "private" message should be seen only by the person intended to receive it.

    So when actor Micheal Rappaport revealed in public, on Twitter, the rants sent to him by Kevin Durant, I was shocked but not surprised.

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    I've said all along that social media is a poison well that has drowned the soul of conscience.

    Private messages do have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but I think Kevin unwittingly waived such expectation when his verbal tirades were conveyed with subtle threats and inappropriate language.

    As much as I do not condone the verbiage, I'm not going to stop liking KD, either. Often times, at the height of anger, we depart from decorum and say stupid things we don't mean.

    This is a case of a good man wielding a bad mouth on a bad day.

    Next time, though, pick up the damn phone, Kevin, and say what you need to say.


    P.S. Speaking of messages, a star player reached out to me asking if I have any updates on the stalled PBA restart and how long the postponement will stretch.

    I was flattered.

    I was also crushed because I didn't have any answers for him.

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    Which brings me to ask, does the PBA have a PR or communications office like the NBA where agents and players can call for information regarding league issues concerning the pandemic and everything else?

    Just wondering.

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    PHOTO: Ervin Sotto's Facebook page
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