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Wade backtracks; Colangelo explains why players not paid for Olympics

Apr 12, 2012, 2:43 PM EDT

Olympics+Day+16+Basketball+-lnrt0GUlGQl Getty Images

In a purely business sense, you can argue that guys from the USA Basketball team deserve a cut of the money they earn USA Basketball — they do generate a lot of money in jersey sales and they help drive some big ticket events.

But it’s a public relations disaster to ask for the money. As our Ira Winderman explained, it looks bad for multi-millionaire Dwyane Wade to say he should be paid for his time while he stands in the Opening Ceremonies next to a kayaker or wrestler or women’s field hockey player who also dedicated their lives to the sport, to reach this moment, and they make just enough to get by.

Which is why Wade was backtracking Thursday from his statements Wednesday (which were in response to what Ray Allen had said). He tweeted that pride motivates him more than money and also this statement to the media.

“I do not want to be paid to go to the Olympics.”

Speaking with the USA Today, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo explained why the hoopsters only get their stipend and nothing more.

“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.”

Basically, you are doing all this to keep USA Basketball going.

No matter what they think personally, you can bet no USA hoops player is going to say anything but they are happy to be there the rest of the way. These guys understand public relations, too.

  1. dspohn55 - Apr 12, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    A reporter asked him point blank if they should be paid, he answered candidly. Then the media firestorm ensues. It’s no wonder most athletes refuse to answer anything more than generic, politically correct answers

    • smoothaswilkes - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      “he answered candidly” – that is the problem. they shouldn’t get paid. the fact it took the internet blowing up to make him backtrack is the problem. this issue has nothing to do with political correctness, it’s about the honor of playing for one’s country, which he should know having played in two prior Olympics.

      • xLith - Apr 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        Bingo. Bravo.

  2. boilerup1869 - Apr 12, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    “I quadrupled the revenue”

    Oh? That was all your doing, was it Jerry? Looks like Wade isn’t the only self-interested snob a part of USA Basketball.

    And cut the crap Dwyane. Everyone knows how you really feel now and tweeting some shallow follow-up about money being less important than playing for your country is an obviously lie. God, can someone in Miami’s PR department please put a lid on all the mouths of all the idiots on their basketball team? They can never seem to say anything that doesn’t make them look like out-of-touch, selfish, man-children.

    • jayzus - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      Skip? is that you?

      • boilerup1869 - Apr 12, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Aww c’mon man. No matter how much you may disagree with someone, calling them Skip is pretty harsh.

  3. thenmoveback - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    I don’t see the big deal. He didn’t say pay me to play, he said the players should get a cut of the merchandising profits that the NBA makes. And I agree, the players represent their country, spend their off season playing ball and the NBA sits around collecting the merchandising money.

    • mornelithe - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      Nah, I don’t think the NBA gets anything (Other than free promotion of their star players), USA Basketball (the olympic organization) does, and it goes to run all of the programs and their associated costs.

    • tubal22 - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:10 PM

      The players do get a cut of the merchandising profits the NBA makes. However, that has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

  4. kingbeason52 - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Im glad “your own” Ira Winderman broke down why 90% of basketballs fan base is porr and does not want to hear about a multi-millionaire not getting his money..thanks Kurt and PBT for all the informative journalistic views you provide your fans!!

    • boilerup1869 - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      Hang on a minute. Reality check time.

      These guys are playing on the international stage to represent their country. The purpose of the Olympic Games (in theory at least) is to put country against country. It is not explicitly intended to be a commercial enterprise in the same way that the NBA is.

      That said, when playing for the United States national team, the entirety of the players’ travel, food, lodging, etc., is paid for by USA Basketball. The players are not asked to spend any money of their own and are not really foregoing other basketball/endorsement-related opportunities to earn income since the national team commitment is only, what, two months of the off-season? It doesn’t interfere with their regular NBA season and companies seeking star players for endorsement deals can surely wait until the Olympics end.

      Next, on the topic of endorsements, playing for the national team at the Olympics gives all of the players incredible international visibility to prospective corporate sponsors. It’s like those high school kids playing in the McDonald’s All-American basketball game every year. You think that single game doesn’t do wonders for their national profile? At least a billion people are going to watch the Olympics, and men’s basketball is always a marquee event. Being on that stage is basically an audition for a thousand different international companies, all of whom could pick up the phone and say, “Hello, Mr. Wade. How would you like to endorse our product?”

      The point is, playing for the Olympic team should be viewed as a privilege and an honor, not a business move. The 1992 Dream Team is a group of basketball immortals, with 11 of the 12 players (sorry, Laettner) ending up in the NBA Hall of Fame.

      So, it shouldn’t be about the money. But for those selfish, money-grubbing individuals who really think the national team players are not fairly compensated, they are obviously not seeing the bigger picture. The international exposure has the potential to earn these players far more than the “measely” couple thousand dollars that NBA Basketball might be able to afford to pay them.

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:08 PM

        Your comment is excellent. USA!

      • tubal22 - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:13 PM

        Great comment. But Laettner is in the Hall of Fame (as a member of, and only because of, the dream team).

  5. canuckinamerica - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Imagine a Pro basketball player (or any other sport) being greedy. I am aghast.

  6. boilerup1869 - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    @tubal22 Good catch – I didn’t consider that.

  7. nygrwy - Apr 13, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    The people of the US should speak up and try and have him banned from playing this year. You do not want to represent us well guess what, we dont want you to either!

    We dont need Wade to win this year. There are plenty of other great players who are willing to play for their Country

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