Olympics Day 4 - Basketball

USA Basketball’s Colangelo lobbying owners against Olympic age limit


In the end, the debate about installing a 23-and-under age limit for the Olympics is about money. It will get framed other ways, but it’s always about money. NBA owners don’t want “their” players wearing themselves down and risking injury in a summer tournament — unless they are getting a piece of the profits, of course.

With David Stern as their front man, the owners will push for it in the coming years. But former NBA owner and current USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo opposes the idea.

He told KTAR of Phoenix he is talking to owners about it (via SLAM).

Ultimately, the decision isn’t Colangelo’s. But he is lobbying owners not to impose the rule. He said players want to decide whether or not to play for the Olympic team.

“They love it,” Colangelo said. “I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with something as simple as supporting the flag and representing your country.”

What the NBA owners want to see is something more like the soccer model, where the World Cup is the big stage and Olympics is an under-23 event (with each team getting three players over that age limit). What the owners really want is a partnership with FIBA so that they would get a piece of this World Cup of basketball. (Mark Cuban wants the NBA to just start its own international event.)

For all their other reasoning, this is about money for the owners. Henry Abbott breaks it down well at TrueHoop.

The players, if they choose, can control this discussion. Because if they don’t show up for this World Cup it will flop. The elite players are the commodity and if they unify on wanting to go to the Olympics and not another event, they will get their way.

And in their ear the entire time will be Nike and Adidas — the Olympics are a huge marketing platform for these companies and they want their hoops stars on that stage.

It’s going to be a topic for the next few years. Now we know where Colagelo stands.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.