By Stefan Anderson
In 1992, when FIBA allowed professional players to participate in the Olympic competition the United States have always decided to assemble the greatest rosters known to man on their Men’s National Team. The United States later seen their fate in the 2004 Olympics, where the roster they put together looked inferior to its international competitors. Ultimately the Men’s national team left Greece with a bronze medal, walking away with an Olympic gold medal for the 3rd time in their illustrious history.
The bronze medal affected the stars of the NBA and brought their attention back to international competition as Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, LeBron James and company all signed to compete in the 2008 Olympics to help “redeem” the United States pride and bring the gold back to their native country. They did just so and with the opportunity to play along the best competition in the NBA and under legendary Coach K, players are honored to join the national team again.
In a friendly, Blue versus White competition between the USA’s prospects, the attitude for the Men’s national team changes. One of the rising stars and premier players of the NBA, Paul George suffered a tragic injury, shown above. Not only players, but the brass of each organization are now speculating if they are going to let their star and prized franchise players continue to compete in international games in the future.
George’s injury could be a freak accident and could happen anytime you step on a court; it still makes many conscious about the situation. Mark Cuban, one of the most outspoken people in the NBA, of course has his opinion about what he thinks about international competition and NBA players in it. Cuban takes his jabs at the IOC and NBA by stating “The (International Olympic Committee) is playing the NBA. The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC (pulls in) billions of dollars.”
The Mavericks also went on talk on why he believes there should be a separate World Cup and went on to add “The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets. The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money.”
Also, The NBA’s MVP and the proclaimed leader of this summer’s World Cup team, Kevin Durant, withdrew himself from the competition. Stating that he would rather take the time to focus and prepare himself for the upcoming season.
Based on speculation, many believe that the George’s incident can be a cause especially because the injury could taint the young superstar career forever. Also with superstars not willing sacrifice their career for a game that only happens once every 3 to 4 years makes no sense to some. Kobe Bryant never played in international competition until “The Redeem Team” came about so it’s not unusual to see that happen.
All sides have a valid point and make clear arguments but what the Olympic games does for certain superstars are unparalleled because it has a lot more pros then cons. Players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, are great examples of that, when went and played in FIBA world championship games and then returned to the NBA, you seen the great impact on their games it had. Many players on the 2008 team refer to playing with true professional like Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant have shaped their NBA careers in a great direction.
Of course the cons that can happen like injury can happen but it is ultimately apart the NBA and playing basketball in general. Seeing the greatest athletes compete with and against each other makes a great sight for viewers and gives the players their best chance to succeed as well. So NBA owners and GM’s should continue their star players and franchise players continue to compete and solely leave that reasonability on the players themselves who rave for the opportunity in most cases.