Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Ricky Rubio never talked to Kevin Love about staying with Timberwolves

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic

    “If he wanted to leave, there’s no reason to talk to him about it,” Rubio said.

  2. USA celebrates gold medal with lots of dancing (except Derrick Rose)

    Sep 14, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    The celebration was more entertaining than most of the game.

  3. Too much World Cup MVP Kyrie Irving for Serbia to handle as USA wins gold easily 129-92

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen Getty Images

    With the win the USA is automatically qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

  4. Brooklyn Nets top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Five Getty Images

    Lots of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston, both of whom left Brooklyn this summer in free agency.

  5. Report: Earl Clark gets training camp contract with Memphis

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Earl Clark, Miroslav Raduljica AP

    It’s a long shot, but he’s at least got his foot in the door somewhere.

  6. Hornets coach says team needs to add ‘another big guy’ following Noah Vonleh’s injury

    Sep 14, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Noah Vonleh Noah Vonleh

    Vonleh will miss all of the preseason, and his new head coach believes that will cost him an early opportunity to enter the rotation.

  7. FIBA not expecting to change World Cup format following Australia’s intentional loss

    Sep 14, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    2014-FIBA-Basketball-WorldCup

    It was obvious that Australia threw the game against Angola to try to avoid Team USA in the tournament for as long as possible.

  8. Gordon Hayward calls time with Team USA a ‘confidence booster’

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Hayward attended training camp, but didn’t make the final cut to be a part of the 12-man roster.

  9. Carmelo Anthony reiterates he’s excited to play in triangle offense

    Sep 14, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    Anthony can thrive in the triangle — if he moves the ball.

  10. FIBA World Cup USA vs. Serbia preview: Serbia no pushover but Americans should grab gold

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Eleven Getty Images

    Serbia looks on paper to be just another speed bump between the USA and gold.

  11. Derrick Rose on his FIBA World Cup performance: ‘I would give it an A’

    Sep 13, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Rose has averaged 5.4 points per game on 27.3 percent shooting.

  12. France beats Lithuania to win World Cup bronze

    Sep 13, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Nicolas Batum, Jonas Valanciunas Nicolas Batum, Jonas Valanciunas

    Bronze was a quality finish for the defending European champions.

  13. New Hawks CEO posts open letter to fans: ‘We are very sorry’

    Sep 13, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Danny Ferry Danny Ferry

    Read the entire letter from Atlanta’s new CEO, which details plans on how he intends to change the team culture.

  14. Carmelo Anthony says nobody would want to play for Hawks

    Sep 13, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Anthony was very direct in his assessment of the racially insensitive remarks made by the team’s GM and ownership.

  15. Rudy Gay upset over ‘dirty play’ that caused him to suffer a fractured jaw in Team USA’s win over Lithuania

    Sep 13, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    DeMarcus Cousins caught an elbow too, and the teams had to be separated once the game was over.

Featured video

How has sale of Hawks made other NBA owners nervous?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Ferry (3476)
  2. D. Rose (3241)
  3. J. Valanciunas (2423)
  4. K. Bryant (2393)
  5. L. James (2364)
  1. G. Monroe (2063)
  2. P. George (2047)
  3. K. Irving (1913)
  4. R. Allen (1816)
  5. C. Billups (1755)