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Winderman: Wrong answer to say NBA players should be paid for Olympics

Apr 11, 2012, 8:43 PM EDT

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball Getty Images

There was one correct answer, and in the past 24 hours Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade whiffed. And that’s unfortunate.

Do NBA players deserve to be paid for participating in the Olympics? Considering the television ratings and merchandising they create, sure.

But should NBA players ask to be paid?

To answer that, return to where it begins, the opening ceremonies, when there, alongside the original Dream Team and then the ensuing NBA-based Olympic teams, stride athletes who instead compete in rowing, fencing, handball, badminton, kayaking, athletes who will never cash in, never earn from their sports what NBA athletes will collect in mere per diem.

NBA players in the Olympics can be like NCAA football players, athletes who help carry the freight so collegiate athletic programs can also field, well, rowing, fencing and others non-revenue sports.

The debate of professionals, particularly NBA professionals, in the Olympics long has been about whether the Olympics truly are the pinnacle of their sport.

We know that’s not the case for soccer. It’s apparent, even with the upcoming Olympic tournament to be contested at Wimbledon, it’s not the case in tennis. And winning Olympic gold hardly stopped the questions about Ewing, Barkley, Stockton and Malone never winning the big one.

For the most part, the entire Olympic-NBA payment issue is nothing more than a hypothetical being tossed in players’ directions, with candor coming in response, which is healthy.

It just wasn’t the right response.

The right answer would have been, “Sure we should get paid — and that money should go to help finance the careers of others in the Olympic movement whose sports are not as well-funded.”

Sort of as Wade did at Marquette and Allen at UConn.

That would have addressed both fairness as well as something closer to the Olympic ideal.

That way, Dwyane Wade not only would be representing the United States, but also the U.S. Olympic movement, easing the burden of those who don’t have an NBA or any other fiscally viable professional stage to turn to.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. kacapaco - Apr 11, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    They can demand a pay when playing FIBA games, where everyone is attending because of basket ball, but Olympics is different story. It is collection of ALL sports where everyone is at equal level and compete for the sake of brotherhood, peace, togetherness and above all the flag you represent. They are making tens os millions; they have to stop this agonizingly American attitude to cash in on everything.

    • LilTmac2003 - Apr 12, 2012 at 1:37 AM

      Brotherhood. Peace. Togetherness. Representing your flag. Yup, yup, yup.

      One more thing though… Honor!

      In America where there are over 300+ MILLION people, you’ve been selected to a tiny group of 15 to face others with similar talent around the world, with a world population over 7+ BILLION!

      Yet even after making easily over 100+ million in their respective careers, they have the audacity to say they should be paid to play in the Olympics?

  2. mrhney03 - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    The right answer would have been, “Sure we should get paid — and that money should go to help finance the careers of others in the Olympic movement whose sports are not as well-funded.”

    Dont be such a socialist…this is a capitalist universe, if basketball is the breadwinner of the olympic games, then so be it…but to suggest they should be paid and distributed to lesser attractove sports is acinine to say the least

  3. mdpickles - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I’d give my left arm to represent my county…..for FREE! Not surprised though, NBA players are more about $$ than championships or Gold Medals. It’s time to go back to letting amateur players represent Team USA. How about this, to be eligible for the NBA, college players must play 3 years of ball before declaring. There could some exciting mix of talent and be competitive in the Olympics.

  4. lameasish - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Never hear NHL players ask to be paid for the olympics, make me wonder…

  5. nygrwy - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    These guys make me sick. Each of them will have made a 100 million dollars by the end of their careers. Not to mention doing something they love, but when it comes to represent your country pride just is not enough.

  6. execut1oner - Apr 11, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    You scum bags, the ones that should get paid the money you get paid is my U.S. Marines and the rest of the service members that pull the trigger regularly and are expected to put all their demons aside then are expected to come home and act like everything is A o K.

  7. lmvs2012 - Apr 12, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    @kacacapo ur dammmm right son!

  8. abchome - Apr 12, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Greedy and nonsense!

  9. ezmagic - Apr 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Greedy bastards! It’s an honor to represent your country. My eyes would water up with a gold medal around my neck and the national anthem playing. These guys don’t know the meaning of honor.

  10. seanb20124 - Apr 12, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    Is the coaching staff paid?

  11. bbk1000 - Apr 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    Wade, Dwayne = Bag, Scum

  12. honkerdawg - Apr 12, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Dont these guys get paid enough! It’s their own fault if they piss it away on bling, cars and child support. None of the other athletes get paid, they do it for their country.

  13. iowahbr - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    These comments by Allen/Wade and the continuing Odom soap opera just further support what we’ve known for a long time. To make it in the NBA you need fantastic physical talent at basketball but a high IQ, not so much.

    • colinsnooks - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      You would rather just watch a bunch of smart guys?

  14. midnite2020 - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    funny how you all leave comments about the players being greedy but none of you dare talk about the merchandising or advertising money made or the amount of revenue generated by those 15 players there to play for pride and good will well tell everyone else to do the same stop everyone else from cashing in on there talents and names and maybe they would feel that way

    • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      You have a point, but honestly, I wonder how much money is actually being made.

      How many Team USA jerseys are really sold? When you knock off the margins, how much is really being made? It can’t be that much. And remember, the players should only get a fair cut -part of the reason why the jerseys are selling is because they are Olympic jerseys (a random shirt with Wade’s name printed on it is worthless…).

      And then the question becomes, who is actually making this money? Is Team USA Basketball paying large bonuses to its executives? I doubt it. Maybe it helps fund the plane tickets and hotel stays for the players? Maybe helps to pay the training staff? Maybe the money goes to the development of youth basketball programs around the country? I highly doubt some old rich white guy is profiting in the millions off their names (which I’m sure is what Wade and Allen think).

      The TV ratings argument is nonsense – because that would apply to all Olympic athletes.
      So where else is the money streaming in from?

      This is all about entitlement. The players all have enormous egos, and they think that the very mention of their name anywhere in the world should come with some sort of payout to them.
      It’s just stupid. If Wade is so insulted by not getting paid for his Olympic efforts, he doesn’t have to show up (last I heard, nobody’s forcing him).

  15. omniusprime - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    NBA players are proving that they should never be considered role models as they are so selfish they want to get paid to play in the Olympics. They should be happy they’re even allowed to play in the Olympics, let’s not forget pro athletes were banned from the Olympics until about 25 years ago. Geez don’t these greedy jerks get paid more than enough playing in the NBA? You Betcha! Obviously these overpaid overhyped prima donnas think only of themselves and how much money they can screw out of all of us for playings children’s games.

  16. lifelong - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Last I checked, the Olympics TV rights and tickets are not free and they generate billion of dollars in revenue. NBC Universal extracts huge fees from cable operators for the Olympics every four years, fees which are passed on to you, so you are PAYING to watch the Olympics if you are a cable or satellite subscriber.

    Why is it that the athletes (basketball and other sports) are the only ones expected to work for free and just for the honor of representing their country? I bet the president of the USOC gets a high 6 or 7 figure salary. All of these corrupt fat cats on the IOC executive committee are also not doing it for free. Why can’t they just do it for the honor of representing their country like the players are expected to?

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Television rights fees go to the International Olympic Committee, not the Olympics. Money generated in jersey sales and from Team USA exhibitions go to USA Basketball to keep that program — womens, youth — afloat.

  17. minnesota32 - Apr 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    So all of you would be okay with risking your career and livelihood for honor, pride etc to play in the olympics for free while people are sitting back and making tens of millions of dollars off of your name and your skills? Would anybody watch Angola Vs. Iran in the olympics? No, because nobody cares about how Hamed Haddadi does against some random african guys. People watch because it’s the only time you will see the best players from the US and the other powerhouses on the same team. It might have been different in the past, but since the dream team came along that’s the way it’s been. There are plenty of people collecting huge stacks of money off of these men and their profession and if they don’t deserve to make any money off of what they do, nobody does.

    • borderline1988 - Apr 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      You make no sense on many levels:

      1) These players are not risking their careers – they are all insured against their contracts (otherwise they wouldn’t even be allowed to play), and most of them probably took out insurance against catastrophic career-ending injuries (if they were smart anyways).

      2) Even if you are correct in that they are risking their careers – if that risk was so bad, believe me, they wouldn’t be playing even for an extra $500k paycheck. Or they would take out extra insurance, as I mentioned before.
      Honestly, I play basketball every week in a league. Should I get paid for the risk of some crazy career-ending injury? Of course not. I want to play. The Olympics is something you should want to do (if you don’t, then don’t do it duh!)

      3) Your arguments about ratings make no sense. No Olympic athlete gets paid for TV ratings. Does Usain Bolt get paid? Very few people watch 100 metre races during the year. In the Olympics, you probably have 50 million viewers for the 100m Finals.
      On the contrary, Bolt would probably pay to be there b/c it builds his global brand thus make more money.

      4) Who exactly is making tens of millions of dollars off these players’ names???

      5) Your comment about ” if they don’t deserve to make any money off of what they do, nobody does.”
      Are you out of your mind? These players make more money per week than the average American earns in 8 years ($15million/52 = $288,462). How exactly is that “not making money of what they do”??

      Last but not least, if the players don’t want to be there, they don’t have to be. Nobody is forcing them there. So either shut up and play, or stay at home and grumble. You can’t do both and expect sympathy from any reasonable person.

      • minnesota32 - Apr 12, 2012 at 7:12 PM

        1) If I’m wrong about that I’m wrong and there’s no fighting it.
        2) Playing ball in some rec league is a lot different than playing at higher levels. I’ve played sports my entire life, and every time I’ve played in a higher level I’ve seen more people get injured. In junior high there were almost no injuries on any of my teams (football basketball and baseball). High school there were more than junior high and now in college there are more injuries on my baseball team than in all the teams I’ve played on combined. The higher the level of play the more likely an injury is to occur.
        3) My point was that if millions of people are watching that’s millions more who are now more familiar with who they see on the tv and are more likely to go buy some merchandise. You can’t try and say Nike doesn’t use major sporting as advertisement for their new products.
        4)IF somebody is making money off of it it should be the players.
        5)I didn’t say there weren’t already making stupid amounts of money for playing basketball, but if somebody is making money off of them how would it be fair that they don’t see a piece of it?

    • borderline1988 - Apr 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      “My point was that if millions of people are watching that’s millions more who are now more familiar with who they see on the tv and are more likely to go buy some merchandise.”\
      Exactly!
      It’s building these players’ brands. That was exactly the point of the blogger here; the players themselves are gaining by building international brand recognition.
      It’s like when Madonna performs at the SuperBowl. She doesn’t get paid for that, but who cares? That’s more worldwide recognition gained in 10 minutes than for all of her crappy songs on radios around the world in 10 years…..

      And for your last point “I didn’t say there weren’t already making stupid amounts of money for playing basketball, but if somebody is making money off of them how would it be fair that they don’t see a piece of it?”

      I work for a financial institution where we are required to do charity work in the community (I think this is commonplace for many similar firms). Honestly, the biggest reason why this is required of us is because my firm realizes that it receives positive recognition when its employees are publicly associated with social causes. More positive recognition translates into more profits which means bigger bonuses for my bosses.

      Now imagine if I were to walk up to the CEO and ask to get paid for my share of the profits that the firm is gaining because of the positive recognition that my charity work is providing. He’d fall on the floor laughing, and then probably fire me on the spot for being such an idiot.

      And the funny thing is, I don’t get any sort of financial gain from what I do, as opposed to these NBA players, who are earning millions of dollars in endorsements because of how recogizable they are on the global stage.
      Not only that, the players get to travel all over the world, meet some of greatest athletes on Earth, and genuinely have an awesome time, all expenses paid. I’d do anything to be an Olympic athlete and I’m sure that you would too.

      Yet the players complain about money. Entitled brats is what they are, nothing else.

  18. philtration - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    What a tough life Wade lives.
    Tons of money (while living in a state where you pay no state taxes) a big house or three, expensive cars and clothes, people kissing your ass and telling you how great you are 24/7….
    Poor baby.

    Don’t go.
    I don’t want to see you at the Olympics since it is cutting into your moneymaking opportunities and you obviously do not understand the concept of the games anyway.
    Stay at home and “represent” your stupid little world where you mock the opposing players and whine and cry when you are losing.

  19. somekat - Apr 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    NBA players are NOT a big source of revenue for the olympics, period. Nobody wears team USA jerseys (at least nobody I ever see). The only ones I ever do see are guys from another country (I recall seing a Canada Nash jersey, and a Nowitski jersey). Besides that, the only “dream team” jersey’s I’ve ever seen were from the first one. I didn’t even see any AI USA jerseys, and in Philly at the time, anything with his name on it generally sold.

    I watch the olympics for the olympics, not for NBA athletes. If anything, I like olympic basketball better when it was the amatuers, at least they played actual basketball instead of nba basketball. Once again, the last USA team that played a team game of basketball ws the first one. Now we just have a bunch of punks trying to ram the NBA game down the international games throat, and without refs that are going to baby them. That is why, even though we ALWAYS have the best team talent wise, we’ve lost more often than won in international tournaments.

    The sad part is, if they weren’t insistent on taking the “best” nba players, and took “second tier” guys, they would probably field a much better team

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