Mark Cuban: USA Basketball Should be for Guys Younger Than 21
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has never been a big fan of sending star professional basketball athletes to the Olympics because of the injury risk it poses and the fact that USA Basketball wouldn't be responsible insurance-wise for injuries sustained by players. He also has argued that USA Basketball profits by using NBA stars.
On his blog, he has a suggestion: follow the lead of of European soccer and limit Olympic participation to players ages 21 and younger:
Now that the European Soccer Community is pushing to remove their most highly paid and best players from the Olympics, we should support their efforts.
For the major revenue generating sports, the Olympics are no longer about Patriotism. They are a business.
If we want to find out which country has the best basketball, lets create a competitive tournament that is honest about why it exists and make it a profit making entity that shares the profits with its participants. A notion that is foreign to the Olympic Committee.
International competition has been a concern for NBA players for some time. Star players, in the past, who have been on successful NBA teams, have extended postseason runs, then spend the summer competing, then head right back into training camp. Players like Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki and others have been noticeably worn down because of the strain of competition on top of the NBA schedule, and it led to increasing numbers of star players declining invites to play on the Olympic team.
As Cuban notes, in 1992, other countries were sending their professional players to play against American college kids, so it made sense for NBA players to go. Now, the increasingly international NBA has evened things out a bit, as well as the fact that American players are having more success at younger ages. Perhaps it makes sense to start sending college and young pro players to the Olympics.