Future Of Basketball Olympics
If you were extremely annoyed by the lengthy and heated debates this past summer about which USA “Dream Team” was better, then luckily for you, you might not hear a new comparison for a while. David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver are looking to establish a new rule barring any players over the age of 23 from participating in the Olympics. If this does go into effect, the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games will be missing the world’s best basketball players.
We can assume this age limit issue has surfaced for two main reasons:
1. Complaint from the NBA and their owners – Guys like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are making over 17M a year, and Olympic competition puts that ludicrous investment at risk. If an NBA player tears his ACL during the Games, you could imagine how upset an owner would be (Manu Ginobili was hurt in International play).
2. The US absolutely dominates the sport. Other than a terrible outing in 2004, the US basketball squad has brought home gold in ’92, ’96, ’00, ’08, and this past year in ’12. Without even watching we know that a small forward from Angola would have trouble guarding LeBron James (just like anybody else in the NBA). What’s the point of these two playing when the talent scale is so lopsided? We’ve seen absurd blowouts immediately followed by opposing teams taking off their shoes for the NBA stars to sign. A sign of respect? Yes. Proof that the game is not exactly fair? Definitely.
An age limit of 23 would decrease the owners’ precious players being put at risk, but would consequently lower the level of competition significantly. What seems a bit odd is that this handicap would actually put just the younger players at risk. While owners are arguing about how their best players are subject to injury, this new rule would specifically place their future stars on the “frontlines.”
The gold medal game last summer featuring USA vs. Spain drew 12.5 million viewers, significantly improving on Beijing’s audience of 6.0 million. If this new rule is implemented, it could potentially put Rio de Janeiro and NBC’s numbers in jeopardy as more NBA fans might be inclined to dodge the glorified game filled with 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th–tier NBA players.