As the great basketball philosopher, Kobestradamus so eloquently surmised, it’s “stupid.” What, you ask, is “stupid?” It’s the proposed age limit of 23 years that David Stern is pushing to be placed on the Senior Men’s National Team. So with US Men’s Basketball Senior National Team’s Olympiad celebrating this well earned Gold medal and take a moment and pause to realize that this could be the last Olympiad where we actually can cheer on the best national team the United States can field. Hear that my friends. If David Stern is able to pass his age limit, the only Senior National Team Member currently on the 2012 squad is Anthony Davis and 2016 will be his last year of eligibility.
Stern, in this USA Today article , brings to the forefront, I think, his rationale for instituting such a change and it’s competition.
“All we’re talking about is the issue, having taken stock 20 years after Barcelona. What is the best way to continue the growth of the game on a global basis.”
My translation? We need to make Olympic basketball more competitive for other countries and there is my issue. Sure another question could be raised such of whether this is age discrimination? By definition (check out 3a), it certainly appears to be. But what really gets in my craw is this notion that we won’t be able to put our best 12 out there. Yes, I mean to sound redundant here but isn’t the reason for competition to compete? And win? With your best players? I don’t know of anyone who wants to compete against lesser talent just for a better shot at winning a game or medal because it cheapens the win for them. It’s a proverbial slap in the face to the International community to cheapen the experience of Olympic basketball.
According to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, this idea isn’t being received well by some in the international community. Shewwww!
Thankfully Stern didn’t have this brilliant idea (that was sarcasm) after the 2008 games because the 2012 team of Harden, Durant, Davis, Love, and Westbrook, which looks good on paper, but wouldn’t have a greater impact than who wouldn’t be on it; Kobe, LeBron, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tyson Chandler, Andre Iguodala, and Carmelo. From 1992-2000 we won by an average of 32.39 ppg with those teams being an average of 28.66 years old. (Doubt me? Check my links get your calculator ready) Our 2004 “Bronze in the road” looked eerily similar to what our 2012 team would have looked like under the age restriction. The 2012 average age is 26.1 by the way. (Again, get your calculator out) Our projected 2004 roster included Shaq, Karl Malone, Jermaine O’neal, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Vince Carter but the first four missed due to injury and the last three to marriage. Again, without question, the absence of those players had a significantly greater impact on the Olympics than their replacements. By the way, can you name who replaced those guys? Yeah me either. What about their average age? Any takers? 23.5. And the result? Bronze. Anyone want another Bronze? After looking at the reality of the 2004 team and the “could have been” of the 2012 squad, with both missing seven HOFers, can you imagine how Stern’s brilliant idea could severely handicap the US chances at Gold in 2016?
Now there is still much discussion to be had between the Stern, the owners, the National Team organization and FIBA so the issue is not a done deal by any stretch but it’s not tabled yet either. And I will rest easier when it is. If my math is correct, and it’s usually not but I think I’m close on this one, a player has to be between 15-19 years old this year in order to garner consideration for the Rio de Janeiro Olympiad in 2016 and be a year removed from high school to satisfy the current NBA stipulation. Of course they can always start swiping college players again and if they’re looking at NBA ready talent they need not look any further than our beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats!
Nevertheless, the notion of capping the age of the players is asinine and unnecessary and complicates an otherwise profitable and glorious venture that we’ve been embarking on these past 20 years. So Mr. Stern…table this and save your face the embarrassment of a proverbial smack down from the International community. No? Fine, then hire John Calipari to coach that team because there isn’t a better coach in the game today to get that team to play as one unit, with a common purpose, and bring home another Gold!