On Monday, the NBA Developmental League - aka The D-League - announced that former Marquette Golden Eagles guard Vander Blue had been named the 2016-17 Most Valuable Player as a result of voting by the league’s 22 coaches.
Blue averaged 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.6 steals for the Los Angeles D-Fenders this past season, leading LA to a 34-16 record, good enough for first place in the Pacific Division and tied for best in the Western Conference. He scored at least 10 points in all but one game this season and scored at least 20 points in 39 of his 47 appearances.
Congratulations to Vander on his accomplishment!
I hope it never happens again.
After going through eight different teams in four different leagues in his first year as a professional, and accruing a decent amount of money along the way thanks to a partial guarantee from the Philadelphia 76ers, Blue has played for the Los Angeles Defenders for each of the past three years, except for a brief stint with the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the 2014-15 season. With no contract tying him to an NBA team at this point, Blue is earning NBDL money. That means that for this past season, he was making either $19,600 or $26,000. Because of his status as an NBDL all-star caliber of player, Blue probably fell into the $26K category.
Raise your hand if you declared more than $26K earned on your 2016 taxes. That should probably be the heavy majority of you that had a full time job last year.
I don’t know why Blue is sticking it out in the D-League, but he is, even though it doesn’t pay very well. He’s averaged over 23 points per game for each of the last three seasons and it’s resulted in absolutely no interest from NBA teams. He’s now the leading scorer and rebounder in D-Fenders history, the third leading scorer in D-League history and just the third to ever score 4,000 points, and his 22.5 scoring average is the second best mark in league history. In short, he’s Crash Davis from Bull Durham, as Cracked Sidewalks pointed out. One of the best to ever do it.... in the minor leagues. And to make it worse, he’s not getting paid very well.
Vander, if you’re reading this, if you can’t get a contract offer through the NBA Summer League this year, please go overseas to play. Go talk to Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Davante Gardner, your old teammates about what they’re making where they are. It has to be more than the $26K in the D-League. You left Marquette a year early to go get paid to play hoops, and I respect you for chasing your dream. Now go get the money you deserve. You’re going to turn 25 in July. Get paid before it’s too late.