USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo on Why NBA Olympians Aren’t Paid

by April 12, 2012

After both Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade publicly supported the perfectly-reasonable idea that NBA players should get a cut of the massive revenues that they help generate at the Olympics and other international competitions, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo was forced to deal with the issue, and explained why the folks holding the purse strings aren’t so excited about sharing the dough with the players. From USA Today: “At the heart of the matter, Colangelo said there is no extra money. ‘All of the money that is generated from our participation and the competitions the senior teams participate in in effect subsidizes and pays for the entire U.S. Olympic (basketball) programs and that includes all of the junior programs where most of these players came from,’ Colangelo said. ‘Most of them all started there, men and women. When I took over the program in 2005, they were in a terrible losing situation financially,’ Colangelo said. ‘During the next four years, I quadrupled the revenue, but that only brought us to break even. That covers all of the expenses for the men, women, boys and girls, all the way down. We sell sponsorship, sell tickets to exhibition games. Another reality is, most of the players, and in fact until this comment today, I would have said 100% of them, understand that there’s some great value to them individually for participating if they so choose to,’ Colangelo said. He rattled off those advantages which possibly include financial gains through endorsements. ‘The opportunity to represent your country is a privilege without anything further said, that’s No. 1,’ Colangelo said. ‘No. 2, the experience broadens individuals in every regard and every respect because you experience things you would not have under any other circumstance — the travel, the people you meet. Thirdly, the brand. We will live in a global economy. All of our players have shoe contracts and apparel contracts and they’re little mini-business onto themselves and in some cases, they’re not mini-businesses, they’re quite substantial. Participation is a privilege that gives their brands a great impetus and most of them really, truly understand that.’”