SBD/August 13, 2012/Olympics

U.S. Men's Basketball Team Seen As Ambassador Of Sport After Gold Medal Win

Team USA displayed "class and sportsmanship" during their Gold Medal run
The U.S. defeated Spain 107-100 in the men's basketball Gold Medal game yesterday, and members of the U.S. team served as "perfect ambassadors for the sport” during the two-week tournament, according to Filip Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The players celebrated “joyfully, not boastfully,” and over the years they have learned “how to perform and behave under this sort of spotlight” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/13). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes the Americans are “ambassadors again, and for all the right reasons.” Some people “may want to find reasons to dislike the idea of pros in the Olympics, but they make it very hard because they are very good.” They “exude class and sportsmanship” (N.Y. POST, 8/13). In New Jersey, Steve Popper writes there were players on the team “with tainted reputations who showed nothing but selflessness” (Bergen RECORD, 8/13). In DC, Barry Svrluga writes the group of players from the NBA, “a league that is often criticized for an emphasis on individualism over team play, became a fun-loving, ball-sharing team” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/13). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes the “joy seemed real, and the competition seemed authentic and the victory seemed worth celebrating.” The players “care more than you think, and they play harder, and they have invested more time” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/13). In Houston, Buck Harvey writes what the players did “was happily attend other Olympic events, meet all obligations with the media, and win every game with respect for the sport and their opponents.” Harvey: “The rebranding of USA Basketball is complete” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/13). In Boston, Bob Ryan writes under the header, “Thanks To Jerry Colangelo, US All The Way Back In Basketball” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/13).

AGE LIMIT TALKS: FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said that FIBA and the NBA “are having ongoing discussions" regarding a potential age limit for the Olympic basketball tournament, and he "wants to do whatever is best to continue the worldwide growth of basketball while also being respectful of team owners' concerns about the wear and tear their players face when playing for their national teams.” Baumann said it is "probably premature to make any changes to the Olympic program." The AP’s Brian Mahoney noted “any potential rules changes for the Olympics have to be proposed this year.” (AP, 8/11). Baumann: “My feeling is that we will not be proposing a 23 age limit for the 2016 Olympic Games. ... From FIBA's perspective, we understand the perspective from USA Basketball and the NBA. I'm not sure (we) necessarily have the same idea, but we understand the owners' concerns” (ESPN.com, 8/11). In DC, Svrluga & Maese wrote USOC Chair Larry Probst was asked Saturday “about basketball’s future at the Games.” But he could “only offer a personal opinion, because the decision will ultimately be made by NBA and IBF officials -- not those directly involved in the Olympic movement.” Probst said, “I personally would like to see the best players in the world. And if they happen to be 35 or 37 or 27 or 19, I’d like to see us field the very best team that we could put on the court” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/11). Baumann said that one change FIBA will push for is “expanding the tournament from 12 to 16 teams, with the number of pool-play games reduced to shorten the length of the tournament.” Baumann also said that the “possibility of extending the 3-point line to match it with the NBA’s 3-point line was being considered” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/11).

TO END OR NOT TO END? FOXSPORTS.com’s Jen Floyd Engel wrote under the header, “Ending Dream Team Era Makes No Sense.” The players on this team, “even those for whom instituting an age limit will have no effect, seem genuinely disappointed that the Dream Team era may be ending.” U.S. G Kobe Bryant said, “It would be a shame. At the Olympics … you really want to send your best out there to mingle with the other athletes who are the best” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/10). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes FIBA “shot down the under-23 idea for now.” But when the NBA and Commissioner David Stern “want something, they keep after it.” Graney: “Let’s hope they never succeed. Games such as the one Sunday are an example of the level of basketball an Olympics can produce when the biggest stars compete” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/13). The Miami Herald's Israel Gutierrez said of Stern, "It’s nonsense him trying to bully the rest of the world into doing this. ... You look at the ’92 team. That team did more to globalize basketball than any other team ever, and people are still intrigued by this.” ESPN's Jemele Hill said, "When you see these global stars playing together, playing team basketball, being committed -- it’s a good image for the NBA” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/12). CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger wrote, “This is how the era of NBA stars at the Olympics should end. Right here, right now.” This team “left nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to prove about what a thrilling success these 20 years have been” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/12).

LEBRON SPEAKS OUT: USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo said Saturday that Fs LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony “would be two of the three players he would likely invite to continue playing in the Olympics if such an age limit were established.” But James said that he “would not play in future Olympic Games if the NBA establishes a 23-year-old age limit for future competitions.” James said, “If the 23 rule goes in, I’m not playing. … If the rule doesn’t go in, I don’t know. Then it’s an I don’t know thing, and that means there’s a chance. But there’s no chance if the 23 rule goes in” (NBA.com, 8/11).
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