Back when Team USA was in Las Vegas, USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo was asked about the idea NBA Commissioner David Stern was floating (on behalf of NBA owners) that the Olympics should become and under-23 tournament. As is done in soccer.
He called it a complex international political problem. One he wasn’t going to discuss before the London Games ended. As he noted, you need FIBA (basketball’s international governing body) on board and you need a lot of other countries to jump on the bandwagon.
Colangelo sounded like a guy who expected a lot of pushback on the idea.
Stern can read the landscape and sounds like he knows this would be a long process, too. At least that’s what Stern said when he spoke to the USA Today.
“Nothing is definitive,” Stern told USA TODAY Sports by phone Thursday. “All we’re talking about is the issue, having taken stock 20 years after Barcelona. What is the best way to continue the growth of the game on a global basis?…
“This is not an urgent issue,” said Stern, the NBA’s commissioner since 1984. “This is just an opportunity to have an intelligent conversation with our friends at FIBA (international basketball’s governing body).”
NBA owners are pushing for this the way owners of major club soccer teams pushed to keep their stars out of another international competition. NBA owners have millions invested in the elite players that come to the games and for them it is all risk (injury) with no reward.
This is about money. As always. Cuban has talked about the NBA putting on its own basketball “world cup” so the league made the money, not FIBA. Stern is more practical, talking more about a FIBA partnership. But ether way, the NBA owners want to get paid.
And that’s why this is going to take a while. Nobody wants to take the money they have out of their pockets.
Which is to say, even though Stern wants it don’t be shocked if the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games has the full complement of NBA stars.