With Team USA competing for the Gold medal in the Olympics, one issue that hangs over the London Games like a black cloud is the push from the NBA to limit the participation of its star players going forward.
David Stern and owners such as Mark Cuban are strongly advocating for a 23-and-under age limit on NBA players in the Olympics. They want to create their own money-generating international basketball tournament instead, the so-called “World Cup of Basketball”.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo is advocating for NBAers to be able to compete in future Olympics, regardless of age.
“The game comes first, money comes second,” he said at a team practice. “I’m not quite sure that’s true for all owners in sports.” Colangelo said lowering the age limit would deny NBA stars an opportunity to play for their country. For example, guard James Harden, a former Arizona State University star, would not have made this year’s team because of the age rule. “I don’t think that rule should be put into (effect),” Harden said. “That would mean that I couldn’t come back. The majority of the guys that play, the faces of the NBA, are 26 (or) 27, so that means they wouldn’t be allowed to play (either). Ultimately, the decision isn’t Colangelo’s. But he is lobbying owners not to impose the rule. He said players want to decide whether or not to play for the Olympic team.
“They love it,” Colangelo said. “I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with something as simple as supporting the flag and representing your country.” […] Colangelo brought his expertise to Team USA at the request of Stern after the 2004 Athens Olympics, which ended with an embarrassing bronze medal behind Argentina and Italy. “At the time, the commissioner said he thought I was the only person who had the credibility and the respect of the players and people around the world because of my experience and because of my resume,” he said.
This will be a tough fight for NBA players and Jerry Colangelo to win. Regardless of the age-limit proposal’s lack of popularity, the Commissioner and the owners are determined to implement this rule (and reap the financial rewards that would follow.) And we’ve all seen what happens when a battle takes place between players and ownership (see: NBA lockout.)
So, enjoy watching your favorite NBA stars take on the rest of the world in these Olympic Games. It might very well be the last time.