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Volume 24 No. 157
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Source: Age Limit For Olympic Basketball Unlikely To Be Implemented For Rio Games

The NBA's interest in “pursuing an age ceiling for Olympic basketball is ‘unlikely' to be instituted in time" for the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games,” according to a source cited by Ian Thomsen of NBA Commissioner David Stern has “publicly floated the idea of establishing a maximum age for men's basketball players of all countries at future Olympics that would mirror the rules of soccer, which requires that players in the Olympic tournament be no older than 23, with three exceptions allowed per roster.” That plan would allow NBA owners "to participate in and eventually profit from the rebranded FIBA World Cup, which -- similar to the soccer World Cup -- would have no limits on age, making it the preeminent international basketball event every four years.” It had been “assumed that the new rule would take effect in 2016, which would have made these Olympics the last to feature teams led by the biggest NBA stars.” But the source stressed that “quick action on an age limitation is highly unrealistic for FIBA.” Passage of the new rule “will require the ratification of 213 national basketball federations around the world,” and the involvement of the IOC “will further complicate the talks.” Though the new strategy will “require patient and methodical negotiations,” the source said that the NBA has “shown no sign of backing away from its ultimate goal of investing in the World Cup” (, 8/9). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said the NBA “has to make good with FIBA" on the under-23 proposal because FIBA "has got to convince the other teams of the world that this is a good thing." Wilbon: "David Stern may not be able to do that, not by himself” (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/8).

RETURN TO INNOCENCE WANTED: A USA TODAY editorial states the U.S. men’s basketball team “is on track to win its fifth gold medal in the past six Olympics,” and the women’s team is “closing in on its fifth consecutive gold.” The editorial: “Good for them, and America, but something is missing.” The U.S. “Dream Teams” were compared to the former Soviet Union men’s hockey teams. The editorial: “If they win, it’s expected. Ho hum. And if they lose, it’s a huge blow to national pride. Sure, today’s system is a lot more equitable. It’s just not more exciting” (USA TODAY, 8/10).

KING FOR MORE THAN A DAY: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt reports U.S. F LeBron James’ “transformation from NBA public enemy to celebrated star is moving at high speed.” The transition has been “multifaceted," and he has the opportunity during the Olympics to "expand his brand internationally and capitalize on his popularity." He has “undergone a significant image change" since The Decision two years ago, a "rehabilitation that has the chance to make a significant impact for James and others.” Forbes listed James’ income from sponsorships at $40M from June '11- June '12 "in endorsements from companies such as Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and State Farm, among others.” Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “He’s already at the top of the charts for endorsements, but if he builds his brand for the long term, he could make a killing.” Zillgitt notes James has a “team of business associates working on deals.” He will “shoot TV commercials for partners shortly after he returns to the U.S., in time for the start of the NBA season" (USA TODAY, 8/10). 

MAMBA NO. 5: USA TODAY’s Zillgitt Thursday noted the title of the “world’s most popular NBA player” goes to U.S. G Kobe Bryant. The five-time NBA champ drew "more attention from international journalists than any other U.S. player” during the team’s introductory news conference in London, and it is clear during Team USA introductions at games that Bryant “receives the loudest ovation.” Bryant’s jersey for the sixth straight year was the “top seller in China, and when the NBA released its first list of top-selling international jerseys in June, Bryant’s name was atop that list, too.” Bryant said, “In Asia, everything came to a head at the last Olympics (2008 in Beijing). In Europe last summer, we did a nice tour with Nike. The response was more than what we expected. At those two points, that’s when we realized how big it is” (USA TODAY, 8/9).

SHOUT OUT TO THE LADIES? The GUARDIAN's, Anna Hiatt wrote the U.S. women's basketball squad “isn't just good; they're great.” Since winning bronze in ‘92, the U.S. women have “won 40 consecutive Olympic matches and, as a result, four consecutive gold medals.” They came to London “searching for their fifth.” The U.S. women's basketball team is “one of the most historically dominant teams in Olympic history.” But Hiatt wrote, “Where are the ESPN and Sports Illustrated covers dedicated to them? Or the NBA-style media blitz? It shouldn't still be a struggle for a team that should be the crown jewel of the US to draw an American audience” (, 8/9).