Recently, David Stern has proposed that the NBA restrict players older than the age of 23 from playing in the Olympics. He’d like to put an age cap of 23 on the competition and then designate three veterans who are over the game of 23 to be allowed to play.
On the other hand, the FIBA championship games won’t use an age cap in their games that are played featuring the USA national basketball team. The NBA and FIBA have a partnership going and the owners in the NBA receive a share of the FIBA World Championship games revenue. Its all about the money here.
Kobe Bryant recently had a few interesting quotes via ESPN recently. Here they are below.
“It’s a stupid idea,” Bryant told local news reporters at the reception to welcome them to Manchester in advance of Thursday night’s exhibition game against Team Great Britain. “It should be a (player’s) choice.”
Asked how much he and his Team USA teammates have talked about Stern’s proposal since getting together in Las Vegas on July 5, Bryant said: “Our discussion is this: Basically, it’s just a dumb idea and we (discuss) it that way.”
USA Today also reports that Bryant said that owners are protecting their investments.
Such a subtle shot at the commissioner isn’t common, but it was warranted in this situation. I’m glad that Bryant called out the league in this because they deserve it. He’s right–they are protecting their “investments”. They don’t want them to play in the Games and then get injured and have to pay for it when they get back to the United States. Its fiscally damaging for them in the long and the short term.
They’ll lose an investment in a player for a given period of time depending on how detrimental the injury is and will also have medical expenses for that player. The Heat would lose it if LeBron James got injured, and that’s understandable.
However, there comes a point in time where nationalism overtakes capitalism. These guys play for the pride of their country–they represent the red, white, and blue. That’s the most prestigious honor that a person can have; for the NBA to take that away from these guys would be wrong. Sure, injuries can occur during the Games, but who’s to say that it wouldn’t happen at home while training as well?
Basketball doesn’t stop just because the NBA season is over. These guys are seen throughout the country in various pick-up games and local basketball leagues. Isn’t it better to have them involved with a higher level of competition and watch them improve their game from there?
I think it would be a huge mistake on Stern’s part to implement this proposed age cap on the NBA. It shows a lack of patriotism and will be bad PR for the NBA. They’ll likely lose a portion of their fan base because of it. Kobe is right, Mr. Stern. This is dumb–stop worrying about your pockets and let the Olympic Games be.