The U.S. men’s basketball team brought home gold for a second consecutive Olympics last week. The competition was more fierce than in Olympics past, but it also saw many of the game’s greatest players bow out due to the hefty toll on their bodies as well as the short recovery time for the upcoming NBA season.
Enter David Stern.
During this year’s tournament, the NBA commissioner had some interesting thoughts on the Olympics and how players should be selected. Stern made the case that basketball should follow suit with the rules for Olympic soccer and institute an under-23 requirement for all participants.
The suggestion caused quite the ruckus among NBA headliners. But while some of the game’s best and brightest continue to squabble over the idea, FIBA isn’t buying it.
FIBA secretary general and IOC member Patrick Baumann acknowledged Stern’s concerns and even expressed some of his own about the extended schedule during Olympic years.
“So there’s an issue about length. One way to tackle that is by not bringing the older players,” Baumann said, according to FIBA.com. “That’s why the Commissioner [David Stern] has come up with ‘why not go with U-23,’ while at the same time promoting younger athletes and also making a difference between the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Olympic Games.”
But even in sympathizing with Stern’s concerns Baumann held a firm stance in opposition to the rule, explaining that the U.S. is at a distinct advantage with only younger players being eligible.
“From a global perspective, the progress of the talent in all other countries doesn’t go at the same speed or the same pace as the USA,” Baumann said. “They don’t all have a school system like the USA. So the ability for the rest of the world to produce a lot of talent is not the same as the USA. As a result of that, lowering the age to U-23 at the Olympics could actually widen the divide between the USA and the rest of the world.”
The rule doesn’t seem that unreasonable and while Stern’s angst is legitimate, as long as players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and others continue showing up to play every four years there’s no way that FIBA decides to cave to such demands.
So, apparently Kobe Bryant really is big in China.
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