London 2012: Why NBA Must Not Give Up on Olympic Dream Team
Just when you thought David Stern and the cabal of owners who control him were finished turning the world of professional basketball on its head, it appears that the Olympics may be the latest victim of greed gone awry (via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski):
NBA commissioner David Stern has been vague on the league’s motivation for pushing to enter an under-23 team for future Olympics and shifting the sport’s biggest stars to participation in the world championships, but the change of course is largely motivated by financial benefits, league and international sources told Yahoo! Sports.
A partnership with FIBA would be a far more lucrative endeavor given the possibility that NBA teams could get their hands on some of that World Cup revenue.
There's no question that the International Olympic Committee should rethink its monopolistic hold on the profits the Summer Games generate. Indeed, if Stern's flirtation with FIBA is simply a ploy to gain leverage in dealings with those pulling the strings at the Summer Olympics, then it would be nothing short of a well-played negotiating tactic.
However, if there's any real intent to follow through with the gesture, then we have a problem.
Wojnarowski seems to suggest this is far more than a bluff:
Stern says the NBA will take time to deliberate how it will proceed in the future, but multiple league and international sources insist there’s little chance the league will ever send its best players to the Summer Olympics beyond the 2012 London Games.
Choosing sides in the fracas between the NBA and Olympic Committee is a choice between two evils—and massively corporatized evils at that.
Should the NBA ditch the Olympics for FIBA?
The Summer Olympics is a global institution that should be as much about tradition as it is dollars and cents. While all parties are surely to blame for the Games' loss of innocence, the decision to take the NBA's business elsewhere is a step in the wrong direction.
After all, the Summer Olympics date all the way back to 1896.
They have become a symbol of global cooperation and an opportunity for nations large and small to express their patriotic fervor in a spirit of peaceful camaraderie.
Basketball was introduced as a demonstration event in the 1904 Summer Olympics and later awarded medals in 1936. The United States took home gold medals in the first seven of those events until the Soviet Union stole the show in 1972.
Twenty years later, the Games took on new meaning for the U.S., as professional players were finally allowed to play. Those players will be forever known as the Dream Team, a cast of superstars that included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and a host of other Hall of Famers.
Since 1992, the U.S. has earned the gold medal in four of five competitions.
Sure, the Summer Olympics won't go anywhere even if the NBA's best and brightest do, but we'd still face the demise of a legacy that has shaped so many fans' appreciation of the Games.
This isn't a time for a globally scaled lockout. It's a time for pocketbooks to take a backseat to the integrity of worldwide competition, and a history of which the NBA should remain an important part.
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