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Should Olympic basketball be under-23 like soccer?

May 2, 2012, 8:10 AM EDT

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball Getty Images

This summer, the United States will send it’s best 12 best basketball players to London to represent our nation in the Olympic Games.

Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban hates the idea, and he’s not alone. This summer will be the 20th anniversary of the original Dream Team and for some the bloom is off the rose. The thrill of seeing our best destroy most countries — but have interesting games with a few other powers like Spain — has worn off.

So what if international basketball decided to do what soccer does and turn the Olympics into an under-23 tournament?

NBA commissioner David Stern is down with the idea, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

“My own view is that post-London, we should be thinking about what soccer does and make it 23 and under,” Stern said.

Soccer of course has the World Cup — a battle of nations where there is no restrictions, and it is an event far bigger than the Olympic soccer. International basketball under FIBA has a similar tournament , the World Championships, which the United States won in Turkey in 2010 behind Kevin Durant (that win earned the USA its Olympic berth). If the Olympics were under 23, the world championship would grow in stature.

The United States could field a quality team. Here is a rough sketch of what the Under 23 Team USA might look like:

Centers: Anthony Davis, Greg Monroe
Forwards: Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Kenneth Faried, DeMar DeRozan
Guards: Brandon Jennings, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Klay Thompson

I kind of like this idea. But it’s something that the rest of the world would have to agree to, and it’s also something that Nike, Adidas and other shoe and apparel manufacturers may not love as they enjoy having their biggest stars on a huge international stage like the Olympics.

Doing this would mean a guy like Derrick Rose would never win a medal (he’s injured for London and will be 27 next Olympics). But it might be something worth trying in Rio to see how it works. I like the idea of the world’s best young players going at it with something real on the line.

  1. abchome - May 2, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    No. Players over 23 should not be deprived the right to compete in Olympics.

  2. aschwartz2011 - May 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    if you think the US dominates now, think about how much worse this would be. The majority of the good international teams count on big names such as Pau, Manu, Yao (in the past) to match up against the US and to carry teams. The US has far superior young talent that would dominate the competition. Yeah a guy like Rubio could step up, but his supporting cast would be far less talented than guys like Griffin and Davis.

    • armenianbasketballupdate - May 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      You do realize that last summer at the 19year old world championship the united states team didnt even make the semi finals…and lithuania won the gold with jonas valanciunas dominating (23p/14r per game)

      The young americans have no idea how to play international ball and if it was under 23 across the board for the olympics it would be wake up call that dunks and crossovers and aau games all summer dont equal development

  3. ptho16 - May 2, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Olympic soccer allows 3 over-age players to be on the team with no restrictions on why, so you could still have Lebron, Derrick Rose, and say Dwight Howard, then have the rest of the team filled out with U-23 players.

    • diabloryno - May 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      I highly doubt any player over the age of 23 would be willing to play in a U-23 olympics. I think players look at it more so now that they are going with the best players in their country to play against the best players in other countries. It will lose all importance in the olympics if changed to this and of course David Stern wants to change it because it is of no benefit to him or the NBA as far as I know.

  4. cancionisimas - May 2, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    I think this is not going to happen.

    Soccer is another world. Not only the World Cup is far (and beyond) more important than Olympics. The European Cup, played the same years than Olympics, is on the same level. No way the players, or UEFA, or clubs, could change that. So the Olympics choose to be U23 for a reason: it couldnt’t work in any other way.

    Olympic Basketball is the most important tournament from a World Wide point of view. Not in USA, obviously, but people, basketball players, in any other country prefers a gold medal over a World Championship. Again, by far (and beyond). This is not going to change only because the USA wants it.

    It’s a problem of perception, history and tradition. Soccer has his own world, Basketball has the Olympics.

    pd: excuse my poor english.

  5. deadeyedesign23 - May 2, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    “If the Olympics were under 23, the world championship would grow in stature.”

    Would it? Would one thing that doesn’t matter effect another thing that doesn’t matter? Basketball will always be about the NBA finals. The only reason to compare basketball to soccer is to point out how basketball is a similar game made better in every possible way.

    • therealroman - May 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      ? how are those two sports similar? there are certain similarities as far as runs and cuts in a small area of the field go or defending in a zone. also, there are billions of people on this planet who love “soccer” and truely understand what it takes physically and mentally to play for 90 minutes, no time-outs, no commercial breaks, no free-throw breathers and no bench rotation. so take it easy man you don’t have a clue, both sports are incredible in their own way

      • therealroman - May 2, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        missed this: other than a few tactical similarities it’s a completely different game though

    • sellahh - May 2, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      missed this: soccer takes a lot more acting skills than basketball
      and im European

  6. londonaiooo - May 2, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    The Olympics is about the best competing in fair competition against the best. So either have all the best players there with no restrictions (other than nothing illegal of course), or don’t have basketball at the Olympics at all. That would be a massive shame, because it can be argued that Basketball players are more athletic than any of the other Olympic sports (not everyone will agree, but it can be ARGUED legitimately).

    Just look at Olympic Football this year. In a Football mad country like England the Football is the only sport not to sell out yet, I think mostly because nobody wants to pay top dollar (or GBP in my case), to not see the best players. Do the age restriction to Basketball and it’ll become an Olympic joke just like Football. Especially now the world has seen what the US in particular can produce and now that the world is catching up quality and competitiveness wise.

  7. mvpolamalu - May 2, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Im pretty sure USA would still win pretty easily

  8. cltjump - May 2, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No. A thousand times no.

  9. 16x8equal49ers - May 2, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I would watch the basketball tournament in the Olympics, not just the final game, but all of it. It would mean more I believe. A show of competition not a Globe Trotter exhibition like it is now, for nba superstars.

  10. rajbais - May 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Yes, an Olympiad that features subpar Americans!!!!

    Do you what an insult an age maximum would be to Dara Torres???

  11. 00maltliquor - May 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    NO. Absolutly NOT. Isn’t the point of the Olympics to put out and watch the best possible atheletes on planet Earth, reguardless of age? Why should we water down our basketball program because all these other chumps don’t have a chance? Tell the rest of the world to step their game up.

    And someone put a damn muzzle on David Stern. He makes my blood boil.

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