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Rest of world not really thrilled with under-23 Olympics idea

Aug 8, 2012, 9:20 AM EDT

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After the Olympics end the discussion of whether future games should follow the soccer model and be an under-23 event will grow louder.

But a lot has to happen to pull it off. FIBA has to buy in. The elite players have to by in (they have the ultimate power because if the elite players stay away from the World Cup it will die fast).

And the rest of the world has to buy in — you think the USA should send an under-23 team while Spain still gets to send the Gasol brothers? No. It’s all or nothing and the NBA owners want to change the rules for the rest of the world.

And the rest of the world may not be so thrilled with the idea. Certainly not the guys from Russia and Lithuania, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

“I would hope that the countries would be in an uproar about this,” Russia coach David Blatt told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday “Who is one country to determine for everyone how international basketball should be played, and particularly how the Olympic Games should be managed? It’s not supposed to be like that. If it’s a global game, it’s a global game.”

“We went to the qualification in Venezuela on the first of June, and some of our players came straight after they finished (professional) seasons,” (Lithuania’s coach Kestutis) Kemzura said. “Of course (the Olympics) matters. We were fighting for this place. I don’t understand this idea of sending younger players, not sending our best to the Olympics. I do not understand it.

“If we leave everything on money, and money runs the show, where’s the sport? Where’s national team idea?”

The idea of changing the Olympic basketball tournament to an under-23 event is an NBA and American driven discussion. And like most American-driven pushes for change, it’s about money.

NBA owners — with David Stern as the front man — love the idea of changing the Olympics because they want to make more money by having a piece of the largest international tournament. Their goal is to partner with FIBA on a growing World Cup or start a new event. The owners see the Olympics as a cash cow they don’t get a taste of.

That’s not how the owners will sell it, they will say this about injuries and health concerns of the players they care so much about. However, the advanced stats and studies show the risk injury does not go up and actually guys tend to play better coming off these kinds of events. Don’t let anyone tell you differently — this is all about money. It’s always about money for the owners.

All of which is to say this is a really hard sell. Other countries will be hesitant (the NBA owners will have to share the wealth from their new event, and they don’t share money well). Star players — who see the Olympics as a proven way to grow their global brands (and you can throw in patriotism if you want) — will be hesitant. Shoe companies will be hesitant (back to the brand thing). Plus, it just feels wrong to say the best players in the world (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant) can’t come to the Olympics.

But opposition has never stopped the NBA owners before. They will continue to make this push. Stern is just starting to learn what he is up against.

  1. raysfan1 - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Go world! The “World Cup of Basketball” is the Olympics, and it needs to stay that way. Some of the owners have complained about the injury risk to Olympics participants; this push just lays bare the hypocrisy of that stance. Screw ‘em.

  2. thestudiokida - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Nobody is thrilled with the ideas and the NBA team owners have no right to vote on it. It’s it either in the players contracts or it’s not. If you want to ruin Olympic basketball go ahead and institute the under-23 rule, if not let’s continue to enjoy the greatest Olympic event.

  3. bucrightoff - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    David Stern, once again proving no matter how bad of a commissioner you think he is, he’s actually even worse than you think.

    • camnellum12 - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      A lot of fans may not like Stern, but he’s not a bad commissioner. This is a bad move, just like many bad PR moves he’s made, but you can’t deny that he helped the NBA become what it has today. Larry O’Brien was a terrible commissioner and Stern utilized Magic and Bird to the max. Magic, Bird, and Stern single handily saved basketball, and we can also thank him for helping the NBA go global. So Stern may make dick moves that makes him look bad, but I actually appreciate what he’s done for the NBA in a whole.

      • somekat - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:16 PM

        we can also thank him for changing it from a team sport, to a star sport. You know, a league where 10-15 guys have a different set of rules than the rest of the league, and obvious violations are ignored because it could hurt the “flow” of the game.
        He may be good at branding, maybe he should of been the head PR guy, but he is a joke as far as the game goes.The NBA is by far the most predictable, and drawn out of the 4 major sports. He is directly responsible for turning the league into a tiered system, where it is mandatory to trash your team to become competitive if you are an average team. PR wise, A++, Commish of basektball wise, F—

      • camnellum12 - Aug 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        That, I can agree to. And Jordan used it to no end, whining and getting away with EVERYTHING and it’s passed down to Kobe, Melo, CP3 etc. who you’ll see always whining for calls. But, sometimes in the playoffs, the refs do swallow the whistle and let plenty stuff go, post-season ball is more pure. But I agree with your post.

  4. 00maltliquor - Aug 8, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Worst idea ever in so many ways.

  5. itsonlyaspeedbump - Aug 8, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    when is the next out in the current labor agreement? 6, 7 years? Would not be surprised if this idea gets shoved down the players throats the next time they get locked out.

  6. olympiacham - Aug 8, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    What’s wrong with the NBA? NHL suspends their season for the Olympics. National Pride supersedes billionaires ‘protecting’ their investments.

  7. wallio - Aug 8, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    “It’s all about money”

    no kidding just ask D-Wade……

  8. imforbigblue - Aug 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Just another reason to hate the NBA SMH

  9. xjokerz - Aug 9, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    The hell with the owners and the hell with America trying to force this down other countries throats. Add it up as another reason nobody likes us around the world :/

    • somekat - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:30 AM

      why they don’t like us around the world? It is because NBA owners want to put the same rule in place for their sport that is in place for the most popular sport in the world?

      It’s a bad idea, but that reasoning doesn’t make any sense

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