The 2012 London Olympics will be the 20th anniversary of the original Dream Team — Bird, Magic, Jordan and a host of other NBA stars putting on a show in Barcelona and reclaiming the gold medal for the United States. That team was the spark that lit the fire of NBA globalization.
But it’s possible no NBA players will be on Team USA at the London games to mark the anniversary.
There are a whole lot of ifs that have to fall into place, but it could be that still locked out NBA players will skip the Olympics. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo lays out how we could get to that disaster.
In the doomsday scenario, where labor strife causes the cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season, and the work stoppage drags into June and then July, there’s little, if no chance, the great American players could play in the Olympics. Team USA is too tied to the NBA – too much of a David Stern production – for the players to break ranks and play. In the post 9-11 world, that’s a tricky subject PR-wise for the players, but several union, USA Basketball and agent sources believe this worst-case labor scenario would cost Team USA its NBA stars.
It has happened before, sort of — in 1998 the players were locked out for the FIBA World Championships and Team USA had to be built from college and unsigned guys (Brad Miller was the star of that team).
This time around it would be interesting to see if players might break ranks — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and the rest are global brands now and the Olympics is a big chance to promote that brand. There is more pressure on them to be at the London games then there was on the guys to play a FIBA tournament 12 years ago.
But clearly USA Basketball is thinking about this — that is why they are sending a team of D-League stars to the Pan American games this October. Consider that a dry run.
Let’s hope that we don’t have to see it in action a year from now.