We can agree it's not as bad as slavery.
We can also acknowledge that a hugely wealthy entity, predominantly owned and operated by white men, forcing persons -- largely of color -- whose services have significant quantifiable monetary value to exchange those services for something other than money is ... not the greatest optically speaking.
And I think we can agree that, with the backdrop of slavery as a major part of our nation's history, the argument that "But we're providing them room and board and an education" is not super duper persuasive in response to the accusation that there's a collusive effort by the powerful to extract the valuable efforts of the not-powerful without monetary compensation.
It's not the same thing as slavery but these kids are definitely being exploited.
Making money off somebody elseís labor doesnít necessarily mean exploitation. If you are in a capatilistic society, somebody will always be making more money off of your labor than you do.
Itís more of a barter system: a $200,000+ education, celebrity, girls, preferential treatment and a launching pad to the NBA in return for playing basketball. If you want to get paid, there are several options: D-League, Europe, China. Heck, band together and start your own post-grad circuit.
You donít get to go to college, reap the benefits, and then equate yourself with plantation slaves.
Funny that you mention capitalism.
I think technically it's collusive monopolistic behavior to artificially limit the market for a certain type of services. Sort of the opposite of how free market capitalism is supposed to work.
I'm not an antitrust expert so I might not be using the terms 100% correctly but I think that's the basic idea of what's going on here.
The NBA, like all American sports leagues, works on a similar principal, of course, but at least it's collectively bargained.
If the G-League provided a legitimate alternative then there might be a discussion here about the NCAA being a "fair trade" of earning capacity for an opportunity to get an education and a social experience etc. etc., but that's a flimsy argument when you look at the practical reality of it.
If you're a high schooler in North America with hopes of making it to the NBA, your only realistic option is to play at a Division 1 NCAA basketball program and get on the radar of NBA scouts. You may get a free or subsidized education out of it, but you won't have the choice of making any money from your 1-4 years playing in the NCAA, regardless of how much money you help the NCAA make. Your ability to make money is not tied in any way to the actual real world value of your ability to play in college, and that's a result of all the Division 1 NCAA programs agreeing not to pay the players anything.