David Stern and the NBA are interested in setting an age limit on who is allowed to represent Team USA Basketball in the Olympics. The proposed age limit would be 23 years old.
“I think we got a lot out of the Olympics,” Stern told the LA Times shortly after the NBA Finals. “We helped grow the game. The result has been extraordinary. But I think it’s appropriate to step back and take stock of where we’re going.”
The NBA and its teams don’t make a lot of money sending their veteran players to international competitions and it definitely doesn’t make up for the potential risk involved.
Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, veterans now themselves, do not want to see an age limit restricting participants in Team USA Basketball.
“It’s a stupid idea, stupid,” Kobe told the New York Times. “It should be a (player’s) choice. The Olympics is really about putting the best athletes out there to compete against the best. That’s what it’s about, put the best out there. From a basketball standpoint, (an age limit) would lessen the Olympics, absolutely.”
Paul noted that he had one of his best seasons ever following the 2008 Olympics that he won Gold in.
“You see guys, when they come back from playing on a team like this, they go into the new (NBA) season with the ultimate confidence,” Paul said. “It’s better than being at home just working out and playing ball. You get to play against the best players in the world.”
We have seen the rest of the international field continually catch up to the United States in basketball. Despite the U.S. sending some of its best talent in recent years, they aren’t dominating quite like they used to anymore.
An age limit of 23 would make it just that much harder for the U.S. to continue winning Gold. They could maybe get away with it this year with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love on the roster but neither of those players are even starting on this team.
Then you have Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, who are two of the best players in the NBA under 23, missing these Olympics due to injury.
An age limit seems logical in some ways but at 23 years old would be a little too strict. Setting one at 25 might work a little better and then the older veterans wouldn’t have to worry about playing, although Kobe and Paul are indicating they want to choose themselves.
USA Basketball is 2-0 in exhibition games so far leading up to the London Olympics. They will play their third exhibition Thursday night against Great Britain. The Olympics begin July 27.