The basketball competition in the Olympics was something I enjoyed wholeheartedly.
It gave me a chance to experience a type of team basketball that you don't see anymore in the isolation era.
Yao Ming really made me feel better about pro basketball players. His commitment to his country was so inspirational. I also got to see players like Ricky Rubio (please be a Knick) and Rudy Hernandez, who I had heard of but hadn't seen them play outside of a YouTube video.
However, the Olympics has cost some NBA teams, with injuries to their star players.
Yao Ming was the most popular player at the Beijing Olympics. Due to his devotion to his nation and the Chinese government looking out for themselves, Yao played injured throughout the Olympics.
Yao wasn't as effective as he should have been, but the Chinese team overplayed him because he was their only chance to win a medal. However, his lower body was absolutely worn out during the NBA season. Had it not been for the Olympics, Yao wouldn't have thought about playing basketball and rested during the off season.
Now Yao has not made any progress in recovery from his injuries, and that could hurt the Rockets' chances of contending in the West. I know that they have done well in the regular season without Yao, but in the playoffs Yao at 100 percent is the only way the Rockets can get to the Finals.
The Olympics probably have cost the Rockets a chance at the title—and with the defense they have, they could win it all.
Manu Ginobili played through the Olympics injured as well. Ginobili's injuries during the regular season and postseason were well-documented. Due to those injuries, the Spurs failed to make it to the NBA Finals and gain the chance to win back to back titles.
The Spurs didn't want Manu to play in the Olympics, but they knew that his feeling of obligation for his nation outweighed the Spurs' desires. Ginobili looked horribly disabled by his injury in the semifinal game against the US. In fact, the injury was bad enough that surgery is required.
If the surgery is successful, they Manu should be playing in two months—but any setbacks in recovery could cost him significant regular-season time.
Manu is also 32 years old.
This wouldn't be a problem if the Spurs played in the East, because they could still take home court advantage after a slow start. However, in the West a slow start can be the difference between home court and looking at a a sixth or seventh seed.
The Olympics is an important stage to many players throughout the world. Many international players' dream is to win the gold medal for their country, not an NBA title. However, the Olympics can cost an NBA team a chance at a title—and a franchise player in the process.