Ray Allen is known as one of the most genuine, well-intentioned players in the NBA. For that reason, it comes as a bit of a shock that Allen is seeking pay for players willing to commit to represent the United States.
In an interview with FoxSports.com, Allen said players should be paid to play in the Olympics. He suggested that sharing the profits from the jersey sales could be an acceptable option.
"Everybody says, 'Play for your country.' But (NBA players are) commodities, your businesses," Allen said in the interview. "You think about it, you do camps in the summer, you have various opportunities to make money. When you go overseas and play basketball, you lose those opportunties, what you may make. … If I'm an accountant and I get outsourced by my firm, I'm going to make some money somewhere else."
While it is true that athletes from other countries are paid in sometimes significant amounts to represent their respective countries, the players from the NBA are a special case. Swimmers, runners and other less marketable athletes do not earn nearly the same kind of salary that NBA stars command. That's why being paid is a huge bonus for them, giving them the ability to train year-round.
The NBA schedule combined with Olympic training concerns many of the players. With such a taxing schedule, it's often difficult for players to get the necessary rest to go back to work for the next NBA season. The concern here is certainly legitimate, as an 82-game season — plus playoffs for some — is brutal in itself. An addition of Olympic contests and practices diminishes the length of the offseason dramatically. The Olympic gold medal game is scheduled for Aug. 12, about a month before players typically start their workouts for the following season.
That said, representing your country is a huge honor that shouldn't really require a financial motivation. If the need to rest and recuperate for the next NBA season outweighs the desire to compete in the Olympics, then the players have every right to choose not to don the red, white and blue.
It's hard to ponder this issue without questioning the presence of greed. The NBA players that are selected to represent the U.S. in the Olympics are typically among the highest paid players in the league. None of those players are strapped for cash.
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade echoed Allen's comments Wednesday. But teammate LeBron James wasn't quite as aggressive in his assertion, focusing more on the pride of playing for his country.
"I love representing my country, man," James said. "I've done it since 2004 and I'm looking forward to doing it in London. As far as (pay), I don't know, man. It doesn't matter. I'm happy to be a part of the team, to be selected again."
In Allen's defense, it doesn't seem like he is looking to make money for himself. It's doubtful he will ever be asked to play for the U.S. again, with younger stars commanding the attention of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
For players like Allen and Wade, it seems a bit strange to be asking for more money from the country that has given them so much.
The commitment does have a cash bonus if the team performs well, although it's more of a formality than anything else. A gold medal earns each player $25,000, a silver earns $15,000 and a bronze commands $10,000.