Bernie was out for a week, so we let a few of his columns pile up. In this column, Bernie talks about why the St. Louis sports fan cares about the NBA finals, but manages to bring his ideas on developing NBA players to the table.

Don’t know where Bernie went and I don’t know if he had a good time, but he starts off his return column with this:

After four boring blowouts, the NBA Finals are suddenly packed with action, comebacks, drama, redemption, story lines. Not that anyone in St. Louis is watching, of course, but the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs are providing great theater, and this pulsating series will conclude with a Game 7 showdown tonight.

A week off and we get a TV listing? Geesh.

Bernie blows through a few statistics and then gets to the meat of the column:

The most interesting and debatable aspect of the deal was the mutual agreement to raise the minimum age for NBA players from 18 to 19. This means that most high schoolers won’t be able to jump directly into the NBA, unless they can doctor a birth certificate. They will ponder a few choices, including going to prep school for a year, playing college ball for a year or playing in the NBA’s developmental league.

Yep, this is true. The NBA has imposed an age limit on the league. If you happen to be a high school phenom, like Lebron James, and you can make yourself and the NBA millions of dollars, the NBA doesn’t want you.

Bernie says there are alternatives to playing in the NBA and wraps up that thought process with this:

Just because a prodigy, 18, must delay his entry into the NBA for a year, I see no need to enlist Amnesty International. If the kid can play, he will eventually make those millions.

Well, yeah, but what happens if he is injured playing the NBA development league or another pro league? Those millions go the way of the Laker’s playoff hopes next year.

Even though the column is entitled, “NBA is exciting this week, even for St. Louisans,” Bernie doesn’t talk about St. Louis until the last two paragraphs. For those keeping score at home, that’s two paragraphs out of fourteen:

On this spot of the long-forgotten NBA hardwood floor, we watch the NBA Finals with a twinge of sadness. We realize that writing an NBA column in St. Louis is like writing a column in Sanskrit. And with Bill Laurie evacuating the Savvis Center, our town’s longshot chance of luring an NBA team is even more remote.

As the years go by, we’ll make do with memories of Bob Pettit, Lenny Wilkens … or perhaps some Marvin Barnes nostalgia for comic relief.

I don’t begrudge Bernie’s platform for talking about his NBA views, but come on. Don’t tease the readers with a headline that has nothing to do with the column. If you bust out a headline like that you better talk about a local angle or the chances of St. Louis getting an NBA team.

Score: 2 out of 10