We brought you the news of Roy Hibbert working behind the scenes to cut through a tremendous amount of red tape in an effort that, if successful, would give him the opportunity to play for Team USA in international basketball competition.
The problem is that Hibbert once played for Jamaica, and although he was born in the U.S. and has dual citizenship with both countries, FIBA has strict rules in place that make it difficult, though not impossible, for a player to switch teams.
There is a rule in place that would appear to give Hibbert a glimmer of hope in this process, though chances are viewed as slim that he would meet the criteria necessary to allow him to be a part of USA Basketball.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
The little-known rule states that a player who has represented one country after the age of 17 may “exceptionally request” that FIBA allow him to play for another country’s national team if that national team is “of the player’s country of origin” and if the request is deemed to be “in the interest of the development of basketball in that country.”
While Hibbert satisfies half of those requirements, having been born a New Yorker, I’m told USAB’s pessimism stems from the fact that it would be a gargantuan stretch to convince FIBA that adding the Indiana Pacers’ All-Star center to Mike Krzyzewski’s roster would have even a sliver of impact on the state of the game in this country.
And that’s the issue.
Hibbert’s addition would be big, both literally and figuratively, for Team USA moving forward, as a dominant inside presence is really all that’s missing from a team stacked at every other position.
But there’s no impact at all to the game of basketball in the U.S. whether Hibbert does or does not play, and that sticking point is what will likely keep him from ever joining the roster.