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SBD Global/August 9, 2012/Olympics

International Basketball Community United In Opposition To Stern's Age Limit

NBA Commissioner David Stern's call for age limits in basketball was rejected by international teams.
As the NBA “tries to play God on Olympic basketball, pushing FIBA to legislate change that’ll render this magnificent spectacle irrelevant,” NBA Commissioner David Stern “should be forced to confront the collateral damage of his failing movement,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS. Team Russia coach David Blatt said of Stern’s recommendation, “I would hope that the countries would be in an uproar about this. Who is one country to determine for everyone how int'l basketball should be played, and particularly how the Olympic Games should be managed? It’s not supposed to be like that. If it’s a global game, it’s a global game.” Wojnarowski noted Stern has been “met with an increasing level of resistance about his and the NBA owners’ desires to turn the Olympics into an Under-23 tournament and send the league’s superstars to an NBA-FIBA partnered World Cup of Basketball.” The resistance has gotten so high that it “wouldn’t be surprising to see Stern use this trip to England to start backpedaling to spare himself one more indignity in these sad, dark final years on the job.” Wojnarowski: “Stern should tell the owners that he’s parking the issue and leaving it to his eventual successor, [NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO] Adam Silver.” The rest of the world “has low tolerance for Stern’s bully tactics.” Lithuania G Martynas Pocius said, “It is the Olympics, and this is important. If they go to a tournament with just the young playing, it would lose all the beauty of basketball -- just another youth kind of tournament. The USA would just dominate it, because there’s just so much more talent (at the) Under-23 level.” Blatt said, “I find it a little bit contradictory that the NBA had made such a push to involve their greatest players in the Olympic movement -- and the world basketball movement -- and now when it no longer serves the interest of the teams, suddenly it’s not a good idea. So what does that mean? That the last 20 years were wrong?” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/7).

NOT INTERESTED
: In Boston, Bob Ryan wrote based on "everything we have seen and heard at London 2012," the idea of putting an age restriction in place "is a certified non-starter." Ryan: "From my vantage point across the pond, I would say events have overtaken the commissioner. ... That little ‘pop’ you just heard is the sound of the trial balloon being burst.” There is “enormous interest” in the U.S. team, and the “international media are enthralled with them.” Ryan: “No one -- I mean no one -- thinks this 23-and-under thing is a good idea” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/8).

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: The U.S. men's team plays a quarterfinal game against Australia Wednesday and remains the favorite to win the Gold Medal despite teams like Spain, Argentina and France being stocked with NBA players. CBS’ Mark Phillips noted, "The NBA first allowed its players to come to the Olympics 20 years ago as a way of promoting its product and the game. Judging from how others play that game right now, it may have promoted too well” (“Evening News,” CBS, 8/7). SI’s Ian Thomsen wrote even as the U.S. men’s team won all of its preliminary games, there were "signs of vulnerability.” Team Australia coach Brett Brown said of the prospect of Spain upsetting the U.S., “It would be no miracle on ice. That is not at all the parallel. These guys are ripe. They have all the pieces, they have the age, they’ve played together: It’s the holy grail of international basketball” (SI, 8/13 issue).
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Olympics, United Kingdom, NBA

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