Tag: David Stern

(From L) US centre Anthony Davis, US gua

FIBA head says no to under-23 Olympics basketball


David Stern and the NBA owners are going to have a much tougher hill to climb to sell the idea of an under-23 Olympics tournament than they thought. They can’t just lock everyone out until they get their way this time.

The players hate the idea and spoke out unanimously against it. Fans hate it — and showed they liked the current format by tuning in with the biggest ratings for the gold medal game in more than a decade.

And FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann shot down the under-23 idea in no uncertain terms in an interview on FIBA’s web site, something first noticed by Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com.

Baumann’s first reason is that if you think the USA has an unfair advantage sending its NBA players, that’s nothing compared to the under-23 gap.

From a global perspective, the progress of the talent in all other countries doesn’t go at the same speed or the same pace as the USA. They don’t all have a school system like the USA. So the ability for the rest of the world to produce a lot of talent is not the same as the USA. As a result of that, lowering the age to U23 at the Olympics could actually widen the divide between the USA and the rest of the world.

There is also a more general issue of what the Olympic Games represent. The NBA, the IOC and FIBA, we have all earned a lot – not just in financial terms – from professional athletes being at the Olympics since 1992. This is the case with regards to the way basketball has grown, from where we were then to where we are now.

So it would be premature to make changes in the quality of basketball at the Olympics, especially before having maximised the potential of the World Cup. So it’s too early to make any changes in the Olympic programme.

FIBA’s main man does talk about boosting the profile of the existing World Cup of Basketball and of petitioning to add 3-on-3 basketball for the next Olympics games. But he’s not touching the tournament age limit.

You can bet Stern and the owners are still going to try and push it, still try to pump up the World Cup by partnering with FIBA, by trying to offer the one thing they have the most of — money.

NBA owners see all the money the Olympics generate and they want a piece of it for using “their” players. They would never phrase it that way, but that is the reality of their actions on this. They see the money and they want a cut, and they think partnering with FIBA can get them that. (Well, not Mark Cuban, he wants the NBA to strike out on its own with an international tournament.)

They all miss on how the Olympics is a much bigger stage to promote their product than one they could create themselves in a World Cup — there were 40 current and former NBA players in the Olympic tournament and they were the cream of the crop, including 21 in the gold medal game. The World Cup of Basketball will never be the platform and draw the Olympics are based both on tradition and on the fact that the Olympics are more than just hoops.

And that really is the best part of the Olympic experience for basketball — it is part of something bigger than itself. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and Kevin Durant are hanging out with cyclists and rowers at the opening ceremonies, they are showing up to watch beach volleyball, they are representing our nation the right way.

Sometimes it’s about more than money. Or, at least it should be.

Note to Stern: Fans really liked, tuned in for Olympic hoops

US guard Kobe Bryant (C) celebrates with

David Stern and the NBA owners don’t care what you think about an under-23 Olympic basketball tournament, because to them it’s about another way to make money off the players and you. This is all about money for them not whether it is good for the sport.

If the ratings here on NBC are any indication, you like Olympic basketball.

The gold medal game between the USA and Spain — on a Sunday morning — had an 8.2 rating and drew 12.5 million viewers. That is the most that have watched a gold medal game since 2000 and doubles the ratings from Beijing.

The NBC Sports Network broadcast the other USA men’s hoops games and those averaged 2.6 million viewers, up 81 percent from the USA network when it showed the Beijing. The biggest ratings for a game this time around? Argentina. Because you can’t take your eyes off Manu Ginobili.

If David Stern and the owners get their way and a World Cup of Basketball supplants the Olympics as the main international hoops competition (and the Olympics become an under-23 tournament) there will still be good basketball and patriotism, but the ratings simply will not be as good. For all our frustrations with the Olympics, we love the pageantry and the spectacle. We love the tradition. We love to see our hoop heroes mingled with gymnasts and cyclists and track stars. We love to see basketball as part of something bigger, not just another made-for-television tournament.

By the way, the USA women’s gold medal game drew 10.2 million viewers, up 73 percent from Beijing four years before.

And the ratings from Rio — just one time zone ahead of the USA’s East Coast, should even be better.

Rest of world not really thrilled with under-23 Olympics idea

Nike Athletes Wear Their New Uniforms and Footwear For The London 2012 Olympic Games

After the Olympics end the discussion of whether future games should follow the soccer model and be an under-23 event will grow louder.

But a lot has to happen to pull it off. FIBA has to buy in. The elite players have to by in (they have the ultimate power because if the elite players stay away from the World Cup it will die fast).

And the rest of the world has to buy in — you think the USA should send an under-23 team while Spain still gets to send the Gasol brothers? No. It’s all or nothing and the NBA owners want to change the rules for the rest of the world.

And the rest of the world may not be so thrilled with the idea. Certainly not the guys from Russia and Lithuania, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

“I would hope that the countries would be in an uproar about this,” Russia coach David Blatt told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday “Who is one country to determine for everyone how international basketball should be played, and particularly how the Olympic Games should be managed? It’s not supposed to be like that. If it’s a global game, it’s a global game.”

“We went to the qualification in Venezuela on the first of June, and some of our players came straight after they finished (professional) seasons,” (Lithuania’s coach Kestutis) Kemzura said. “Of course (the Olympics) matters. We were fighting for this place. I don’t understand this idea of sending younger players, not sending our best to the Olympics. I do not understand it.

“If we leave everything on money, and money runs the show, where’s the sport? Where’s national team idea?”

The idea of changing the Olympic basketball tournament to an under-23 event is an NBA and American driven discussion. And like most American-driven pushes for change, it’s about money.

NBA owners — with David Stern as the front man — love the idea of changing the Olympics because they want to make more money by having a piece of the largest international tournament. Their goal is to partner with FIBA on a growing World Cup or start a new event. The owners see the Olympics as a cash cow they don’t get a taste of.

That’s not how the owners will sell it, they will say this about injuries and health concerns of the players they care so much about. However, the advanced stats and studies show the risk injury does not go up and actually guys tend to play better coming off these kinds of events. Don’t let anyone tell you differently — this is all about money. It’s always about money for the owners.

All of which is to say this is a really hard sell. Other countries will be hesitant (the NBA owners will have to share the wealth from their new event, and they don’t share money well). Star players — who see the Olympics as a proven way to grow their global brands (and you can throw in patriotism if you want) — will be hesitant. Shoe companies will be hesitant (back to the brand thing). Plus, it just feels wrong to say the best players in the world (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant) can’t come to the Olympics.

But opposition has never stopped the NBA owners before. They will continue to make this push. Stern is just starting to learn what he is up against.

USA Basketball’s Colangelo lobbying owners against Olympic age limit

Olympics Day 4 - Basketball

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.

Owners expected to vote on several rule changes Thursday


David Stern tried to streamline — or gain more control over, if you prefer — the NBA Rules Committee. Rather than having to wrangle 30 independent-minded general managers, Stern put together a new hand-picked competition committee of coaches, players and GMs. One where he was more likely to get his ideals accomplished.

But the owners still have to vote on any changes.

That is what supposed to happen Thursday at a Las Vegas meeting. Henry Abbott at TrueHoop got ahold of the agenda and what is interesting is that no vote on changes in flopping rules are on there, although the owners will discuss it. While this is a big issue with fans and a black eye for the league during the playoffs, it’s also not an issue with a simple answer. Clearly Stern wanted to get feedback from owners before moving forward. Same with the idea of the international goaltending rule (where once the ball touches the rim it is live and you can grab the ball right off it).

Here are some of the things the owners are expected to vote on:

• Allowing referees to use instant replay on all flagrant fouls. Really, this should have been happening anyway. But under the current rules referees can review only Flagrant 2 fouls, not the lesser Flagrant 1s. This would let the referees review and amend their calls based on the reviews. You have to think this gets approved

• Allowing referees to use instant replay on late game goaltending/restricted area calls. Another expansion of replay and another pretty logical one. When a game is being decided in the final minute I want the referee to see a guy’s foot was inside the restricted area when he took a charge, or to get a goaltending call right.

• Allowing teams to choose baseline or sideline when inbounding the ball after a timeout. Again, I have no problem with that.