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Kobe calls under-23 Olympic basketball idea “stupid”

Jul 18, 2012, 12:13 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

When this Olympics ends there is going to be a discussion among a bunch of rich lawyers in suits about what is best for basketball players. What could go wrong with that?

David Stern, pushed by NBA owners, wants to see the Olympic basketball tournament become an under-23 tournament, as is done with men’s soccer. That conversation will get pushed harder after the London games. USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo said he had talked with Stern about it and said that it would be a very political decision involving FIBA and countries around the world.

The players pretty much hate the idea.

Kobe Bryant summed it up directly, speaking to Reuters (via SLAM) as Team USA landed in England for a game against Great Brittan Thursday (which will be another rout).

“It’s a stupid idea, stupid,” Bryant, 33, told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Team USA’s Olympic friendly against Britain on Thursday. “It should be a (player’s) choice…

“The Olympics is really about putting the best athletes out there to compete against the best. That’s what it’s about, put the best out there,” said Bryant. “From a basketball standpoint, (an age limit) would lessen the Olympics, absolutely.”

Soccer fans, feel free to jump into the club vs. country debate you’ve had for decades. Owners of teams have huge investments in players, investments that are risking injury and wearing down their body during the offseason and they want it to stop. The players just want to play and compete at the highest levels. The shoe companies like the idea of their biggest stars on this global stage. FIBA wants its World Cup to be like the soccer World Cup and not a secondary tournament to the Olympics.

So, lots of old lawyers in suits arguing about what basketball players should do in the offseason. That’s always how the best decisions get made.

  1. skids003 - Jul 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Well, by gum, if Kobe says it’s stupid, it must be.

  2. thraiderskin - Jul 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Personally, I want our best players out there representing us. This isn’t an every year event and at some point, it needs to be about pride, national pride. I’m damn well not interested in giving other countries a chance, as long as we are producing the best ballers in the world, I want it proven! I want every country to know they are facing our Kobes, Lebrons and Durants.

    • cured76 - Jul 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      I agree. The Olympics are awesome and having the opportunity to see our All Star team competing in their space, along with all of the other Olympic events, is what makes the competition so much fun to watch. So many compelling stories. I like being able to consume so much of it over the course of 2 weeks. Winning a gold medal for your home country is a great honor and it would be odd if we can’t send our our very best players to represent our country.

  3. brenenostler - Jul 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Agreed. The Olympics is about the best players. Most of them, if not all, are 23 or older.

  4. mannyfresh209 - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    You guys talk about competition as if there’s any REAL competition for the US team..

    It would be all be GUARANTEED that the competition would be far greater, if the under-23 rules are implemented.

    That being said, I’m all for putting my foot across someone’s throat and beating them in to submission! My girl just asked me to be her Christian Grey today, her dominant. That’s what we need to continue doing as long as possible: Dominating international basketball.

    • kopy - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      “My girl just asked me to be her Christian Grey today, her dominant.”

      So you went and perused internet comment boards instead?

    • passerby23 - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      There IS real competition for the U.S. team despite them being the favorites. This isn’t 1992 anymore where they win by 50 or 60 points. Other teams have legit NBA players.

      The whole idea of the Olympics is pitting the best against the best. Why would anyone want to water down their product by capping an age limit?

    • thraiderskin - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      wow…

  5. philtration - Jul 18, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    “Stupid” says the man that screwed around behind his wife’s back with some mentally unstable dog and then face rape charges.
    Enlighten us O wise one.

    Kobe sure is doing a lot of talking these days and 90% of everything coming out of his mouth is “stupid”

  6. thevza - Jul 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Screw under-23 basketball, it should be over-43 only! Dream Team reunite every 4 years! The world needs more Christian Laettner!

  7. davidly - Jul 18, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    The Olympics is about sports like track & field and gymnastics – sports that don’t have big pro earning potential. I understand the logic behind the soccer rule, and couldn’t care less either way about basketball, except that I’m pretty sick of American-exceptionalist idiocy.

  8. echech88 - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    If the 1992 team was 23-and-under the international landscape of the NBA right now would be pathetic.

    Sending superstars to the world’s stage only helps further build/maintain buzz and interest in the sport of basketball around the globe.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

      The crazy thing is that global growth was a top priority for the NBA right up until the moment Stern made this announcement. This can only be viewed as a complete reversal of what they’ve been trying to do since the original Dream Team.

      Stern has either totally lost touch or no longer has the backbone to stand up to the owners. It’s not hard to imagine the PR disaster that would ensue for the NBA the first time the under 23 squad they’d advocated got beat. A bunch of undisciplined young players would be far more likely to lose to some hot-shooting foreign squad who knew how to play as a team than veteran superstars would be.

  9. ccshocktalk - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    That’s like saying their should be a minimum age to play in the FIBA world championships.

    Bottom line, the olympics are supposed to be the best athletes regardless of age. All this is, is a ploy to make more money for the NBA owners, and for the sponsors.

    If this thing is all about age, we might as well just say no more professionals whether it’s over seas professional leagues or the NBA and make the Olympics purely for amateur athletes and just have everyone send collegiate athletes to all the games.

  10. ccshocktalk - Jul 18, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    That’s like saying their should be a minimum age to play in the FIBA world championships.

    Bottom line, the olympics are supposed to be the best athletes regardless of age. All this is, is a ploy to make more money for the NBA owners, and for the sponsors.

    If this thing is all about age, we might as well just say no more professionals whether it’s over seas professional leagues or the NBA and make the Olympics purely for amateur athletes and just have everyone send collegiate athletes to all the games.

    At the end of the day if the players want to play till they’re 50 and we want them on the team, then have at it.

  11. mogogo1 - Jul 18, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Hard to believe that Stern was once hailed as the best commissioner in all of pro sports. These days he can’t even stay out of his own way. It was only a few years ago when he was pressuring guys to play in the Olympics and World Championships. Now he wants those same guys to stay home?

  12. omniusprime - Jul 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    David Stern is the worst thing to happen to the NBA! Just a stinking suit moron who’s done everything he can to ruin the brand. Geez let’s try to remember that we got the Dream Team of older pro players because our under 23 college Olympic teams couldn’t compete with the rest of the world.

    Lawyers in suits are the scum of humanity! If soccer wants to have crappy national teams then let soccer be a crappy Olympic venue, I don’t bother watching the men since they’re too young and not the world’s best. Sorry that stinking clubs are made out to be more important than countries. Yeah let’s bring about the “Rollerball” world where stinking criminal CEO’s make all the decisions that affect the rest of us, with the help of their corrupt lawyers in suits.

    I’m with Kobe, bring the best to the Olympics regardless of age except for those who are just too young, like Chinese gymnasts.

  13. imthedudedude - Jul 18, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Kobe also thought it was consensual…

  14. scoregasmic - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    I don’t think I’d watch if it was under 23 I want to see the NBA’s best on the same team

  15. texans3four - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    I hate the “Dream teams” and their 30 point margins of “victory!”. Booooring! College only players to make it mean something special when they win.

  16. davidcl77 - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Kobe needs to realize he is old and his best days are long gone. Therefore, shut that trap. The young Thunder cleaned his clock, and will again. Retire and shut it, son.

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