NBA's Olympians Should Be Paid, but It's on Them to Ask

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterApril 11, 2012

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  Dwyane Wade #9 of the United States goes up for a slam dunk in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports reveals that Ray Allen thinks NBA players should be paid per Olympic trip. 

An Allen excerpt: 

"Everybody says, 'Play for your country.' But (NBA players are) commodities, your businesses. 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 opportunities, 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."

Cue the angry commentators who think athletes should do this all for the pride. Established truth: "playing for the pride" always sounds best to those not doing it.

No one's a victim here, but USA Basketball has has a pretty convenient relationship with NBA players. So long as labor is sold on unpaid exposure being worth opportunities going forward (hmm, this is starting to sound like the blogging profession), Colangelo & Co. get to reap the benefits of NBA-elite talent without having to pay for it.  

Dwyane Wade also weighed in on the issue, again, via Tomasson:

"I think licensing can be a way. Maybe you say licensing would maybe not be fair because everyone wouldn't get the same amount. But that's something that (others) got to worry about because this will be my last time around.''

It is strange that other Olympic athletes make a lot of direct money from private sponsors while NBA players do not. Just know that before you wax on about how no other Olympian does this for the green. Our sanctified world games run on cash from the banks and junk-food producers who seek to brainwash us at our most prideful and emotional.

It's about cash just as much as it's about international union, national spirit or fun. And this NBA payment frustration may be a simple matter of securing the right Team USA endorser. 

If we can fool ourselves into thinking hired basketball mercenaries represent our respective cities, we can certainly maintain that illusion per national representation. Moreover, players already can get paid, provided they medal ($25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, $10,000 for bronze and priceless Krzyzewski tears for fourth place). It's not like some extra money ruins the whole amateur aura of the event.

Allen and Wade's comments could be the start of a negotiation, one that NBA players have good reason to begin. It's on them to start the process, though. If you keep happily working for free, you'll keep earning that wage.