Enjoy today's gold medal matchup between the United States and Spain because NBA commish David Stern and the NBA owners are trying to ruin it. Stern is proposing an under-23 age limit that would basically end the star power of the NBA going to the Olympics.
The reasoning? Well, they'll say that the NBA owners are tired of taking the risk of sending their super stars ... aka their most expensive players ... over to the Olympics and getting hurt. They'll say that the Dream Team era has run its course. They'll say the NBA teams get nothing out of this.
Since the NBAers started back in 1992, we have seen no major injuries. In fact, we tend to see players sent to the Olympics come back better for the experience. Whether it is the atmosphere, the honor or the fact that they are playing alongside other great players whose work ethic and commitment rubs off on them, it makes a difference on everyone. You can't tell me that being around Kobe Bryant's focus wasn't good for LeBron James. One of the best examples was Lamar Odom, who seemed to thrive after being part of 2010 FIBA World Championship team.
And that is just the USA's guys. The foreign players tend to get more confidence after playing in the Olympics. Tell me that Australia's Patty Mills ... a backup for the Spurs ... won't play better this upcoming season after his blistering Olympic efforts.
Ahhhh the foreign players. I know there has been a lot of debate recently about if the 2012 USA team could beat the Dream Team of 1992. Lost in all the argument is the fact that the opposition is so much better now. Back in 1992, there were hardly any NBA players on any other country's squad. Today, the USA will play a Spain team that features five current NBA players ... including All Stars Pau and Marc Gasol. Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Sergio Rodriguez are also NBA players at one time. Argentina ... the team USA just beat ... has five NBA players.
The point is that the impact on the game globally is exponential. And the NBA teams have not only cashed in with those great players developing and coming over to the League, but in the fact that it broke down the door and let tons of marketing opportunities into these other nations.
Oh ... that is what all this is really about. Money. See, the NBA owners don't make one red cent off of sending players to the Olympics. Again, no red cents directly, but they've made a ton collaterally. But this new World Cup of Basketball thing that FIBA has cooking up ... well the NBA can really cash in. The World Cup, the re-branding of the FIBA World Championships, will allow for teams to both cash in on sending their players over as well as allowing all sorts of marketing possibilities for the NBA. So the NBA wants to keep their stars out of the free Olympics ... like soccer does ... and use them for the World Cup.
No one else really likes this. To the other nations, this would make the United States even more dominant in Olympic play since US players are better at 23 than international ones. Remember back when our college players played in the Olympics that we were getting beat by other nations who had adult professional players on their teams.
Note: the NBA is proposing a 3 player exception for each country which would allow three guys over the 23-yr limit to participate.
This won't be in place for the 2016 Games in Rio. That could be good since that would probably be the end of our current cycle of Olympians. You can see LeBron, Wade, Dwight Howard, Durant, Paul and Carmelo making that their last run and then the 2020 Games starting this new era. Maybe that will work out for everyone.