SBD/August 7, 2012/Olympics

FIBA Not Necessarily Supporting Stern On Olympic Basketball Age Limit

USA Basketball can limit its team to players under the age of 23, as NBA Commissioner David Stern recently proposed, but do not expect the rest of the world to follow suit any time soon. FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said that he will meet with Stern about the idea to get more details before bringing it to FIBA’s 200-plus members for approval. “When, whether, what age -- I’m not sure they have a clear mind on that,” Baumann said. “USA Basketball may make up its own mind about whether they want to come with youngsters here. That could be their choice. There is going to be a lot of debate. ... Every idea is welcome.” The 23-year-old age limit that Stern proposed has become the most-discussed, off-court issue during the Olympics. Baumann said that creating an age limit would hurt countries like Nigeria, which is still developing the game. He added that FIBA would not make a decision on the subject any time soon. The subject likely will become one of several issues the NBA and FIBA work through in the coming years. Baumann said FIBA is unhappy with the lack of international basketball exhibitions and qualifiers that are played each year. He would prefer a similar system to soccer, which sets aside a few weekends of every year for players to leave their professional clubs and play in national team games. “I don’t think there have been official games of USA Basketball in the United States qualifying for somewhere,” said Baumann, who is from Switzerland and also is a member of the IOC. “I don’t remember since 1993, the German fans haven’t seen the German national team playing in Germany. Our members have an issue with that” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

TAKING SIDES: In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes it would be a "shame ... if they mess with the format of this quadrennial gathering, if they turn this into a 23-and-under free-for-all." Vaccaro: "We forget sometimes the Olympics are supposed to be about talent. ... If you hold a world championship in a sport and the world's best 300 or so players at that sport aren't invited, what's the point?" He added, "Limiting the talent pool limits the sport. And, frankly, if that's the way basketball is going, it should just hold world championships every year and stay out of the Olympics" (N.Y. POST, 8/7). But CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote, "I'm tired of the Dream Team. It's way too good, except for the times when it's not nearly good enough. Either way, I'm sick of it. This is an experiment that has run its course" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/6).

STAYING NEUTRAL: Four Thunder players -- Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the U.S. and Serge Ibaka for Spain -- are playing in London, and SI.com's Sam Amick wrote Thunder GM Sam Presti is "forever the diplomat, meaning the record will show that he was neutral on the issue of the Olympics and whether players of all ages should compete in men's basketball." However, as Presti "discussed his players' experiences in London, it was hard to miss the enthusiasm in his voice about five-ring life as we know it." He spoke "glowingly about the fringe benefits of having pros play internationally." Presti said, "It's really helpful for them to play under different circumstances; it only rounds them out as players and makes them better." He added, "I really feel like we've benefited from all of the exposures that the players have been given, and I think they're all very grateful for the opportunity too. It's fun to watch them in these situations." Amick noted Presti made it "clear that he wanted to learn more about the 23-and-under debate before forming his opinion" (SI.com, 8/6).
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