Liam Quinn discusses what effect David Stern’s plans to make the Olympics an Under-23 competition will really have in his entry to our weekly Article of the Week Cash Giveaways!
Written by Liam Quinn
As Team USA continues to impose their international dominance on the East London hardwood, talk across “The Pond” continues to revolve around the NBA pulling the plug on the Olympic Basketball movement.
And make no mistake; if the NBA’s plans for the future of the international game come to fruition, basketball in the Olympics will immediately be relegated to a series of unimportant exhibition games.
The NBA’s World Cup plan has long bubbling away under the surface in basketball circles, yet after a recent increase in comments from Commissioner David Stern, the general consensus is that it’s only a matter of time before the next phase of basketball’s quest for world domination comes into affect.
Stern is an incredibly savvy businessman, whose work at the helm of the National Basketball Association has (though not entirely created) nurtured the spread of the game around the world. Therefore, it’s easy to imagine the discomfort and disdain that the Commish feels, seeing the stars of his league furthering the Olympic brand – one that he has no control over.
Not only does that mean that Stern and the NBA are losing out on the fiscal incentives that could come from hosting their own international tournament, but if they operated a hybrid model shaped around the FIBA and FIFA world cup formats, it means that the Olympic system is an inferior product to what they could provide.
In 2010, the FIBA World Championships consisted of 24 nations, rather than the 12 that will take the floor in London. At the Games, top ten ranked teams Italy, Greece and Serbia didn’t make the Olympic cut. And while, ultimately it’s their fault for not succeeding in the qualifying process, the competition would without doubt be richer if more of the world’s top nations were represented.
The combination of those factors, and the undoubted financial windfall that would come from such a grand international stage, has NBA owners ready to go all-in on adopting a FIFA-styled World Cup.
However, despite all the supporting evidence and narrative the NBA can create, such a tournament wouldn’t match the success of Football’s main tournament.
The best thing about the FIFA World Cup is that realistically, a handful of teams have a legitimate chance to walk away the victors at tournament’s end. Consider, despite the fact that the current Spanish Football Team is widely considered one of the best ever, they still needed extra time to win the 2010 trophy. For all their talent and accolades, success wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
And, while admittedly that’s the case in the Olympics, the historic aspect surrounding the Games helps detract from the relative monotony of international play – at least in terms as to the results at the pointy end.Contrast that with Team USA’s Olympic prospects, where a significantly undermanned squad is still the overwhelming favourite, and in all likelihood will waltz to glory. If the NBA’s planned push towards a World Cup were to take place, it would not change the fact that the United States would be the unbackable favourites every tournament.
International basketball has come along way in the last two decades, but as long as the United States still rule over the basketball kingdom with an unchallenged iron fist, plans for a World Cup should remain on the back burner.