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Jeremy
06-24-2008, 03:35 PM
Olympics anything but ideal for NBA (http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/8277480/Olympics-anything-but-ideal-for-NBA)

We could debate talent, chemistry and the legitimacy of the choices. That would be the usual state of affairs on the day after the 2008 version of Team USA was announced.

Rather, let's discuss the big picture of what is going on here with the advent of internationalism in the NBA, the reality of NBA players now the sole members of the Team USA roster and the effect it is having on the owners that guarantee tens of millions of dollars every year to these guys.

It isn't pretty and NBA ownership and management isn't happy.

San Antonio Spurs coach and president Gregg Popovich has made it clear he doesn't want star guard Manu Ginobili representing Argentina. Ginobili was essentially ineffective in the Spurs Western Conference finals loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and now he's going to the Olympics with a chronic ankle problem and a mangled finger? The Spurs have suffered more than anybody because they always play so deep into the playoffs and have so many international players that compete in the summer, even in non-Olympic years. Despite winning four titles over the past 10 seasons, the fact is international ball has worn out players enough that it has played in a role in their failure to repeat during that time.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote in his blog how tired he is of the hypocrisy that coaxing the employees of the NBA teams and risking their talents so the Olympic Committee and networks carrying the games can make money. Meanwhile, his superstar Dirk Nowitzki has a chronic ankle problem that he will take to the German team, and Jason Kidd will run point for the U.S. team despite his shaky 35-year-old knees. It puts into peril the money he has invested in his team, not to mention the money fans have devoted to Mavs season tickets.

How can the Miami Heat and their fans be thrilled about Dwyane Wade going to China? Offseason shoulder and knee surgery caused him to miss the first two weeks of last season and he packed it in more than five weeks before the end of the season because his body was so deteriorated. And yet he's going with the U.S. team to training camp and then to Beijing?

It just doesn't make sense.

Kobe Bryant eschewed necessary surgery on his right hand to repair a dislocated finger and torn ligament to play out the second half of the season. Doctors said he should have had the surgery immediately, and yet he went all the way through the Western Conference title and five games into the Finals. But he still won't have surgery until after the Olympics. Is the Lakers organization lacking patriotism if they ask him -- no, tell him -- not to go?

Absolutely not.

And that's not to say I don't care about the Olympic team because it's something I've looked forward too all the way back to 1960, when at 6-years-old, I watched Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas with my dad.

The one that stands out the most, though, was the worst summer of basketball in my life -- 1972. Not only was the U.S. team ripped off when officials put time back on the clock and the Russians stole the gold on a miracle shot in that additional second, but it was the year my NBA team, the Royals, moved from Cincinnati to Kansas City.

This is a different time, and a different landscape for the Olympics, although ironically I am once again in a panic about losing a team since the Seattle Sonics may very well leave my adult home. If I dare blink, they may land in Oklahoma City. But that's a different ugly story, emblematic of how fleeting the commitment can be to and from the NBA.

The problem with the NBA players competing in the Olympic games has become serious enough that the Board of Governors should look into adopting an addendum to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that would prohibit players from competing in extracurricular basketball if they were injured seriously enough to miss 10 games the previous season or have a chronic injury that caused them to miss a like number of games. That would at least cut back on games lost the following season.

Then again, if you look at teams that played late into the playoffs and then had even healthy players compete internationally, too many of them got hurt. That's what happened in 2006, at least half of the players from that World Championships team struggled physically through the first half of the 2006-07season.

Is that anti-patriotic? Some may think so. It's their right. But it's even more the right of those players' employers to have major issues with what's going on here.

It's just business, and that's precisely the valid point Cuban makes in his blog. To jeopardize the future of his team in general and individual players in particular make it a major argument worth having at the next Board of Governors meeting.

The players aren't going to like it because everyone deserves the right to try out for the Olympic team, but do it when they're younger. Get them while they're in college or have an open tryout for NBDL players. At some point, a line is going to be drawn in the sand. This isn't about a world war and unless you're in complete denial, the Olympics are just as much about business as the NBA is -- so why should the guys footing the bill have to shoulder all the risk?

The negative impact on the 2008-09 teams with participants is inevitable, just wait. It's going to hurt at least one team significantly and probably more.