After 20 years of seeing some of the NBA’s best talent compete on Team USA, is it time for a change? Is it time to let the college players back onto the international stage? Opinions have been mixed among many observers. Some have suggested an age maximum of 23 years, while others believe NBA players should have no part whatsoever in international competition.
The 1992 NBA Dream Team, an exciting phenomenon, took the Olympics by storm. Opposing players were happy to be on the same court with the likes of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley. The games weren’t competitive, but the fans loved it. Mission accomplished with the best players in the world on the court and no nation in the world able to compete against them.
The invincibility of the United States took a hit when the 2002 World Championship and 2004 Olympic squads failed to win gold. The 2008 Olympic team, dubbed the “Redeem Team,” put the United States back at the top of the food chain. A roster that included Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams easily dispatched all opponents, winning the gold medal.
Several of those players–James, Wade, Williams and Bryant–are on the 2012 roster, but hasn’t the statement already been made? Although Europe has drawn a bit closer, America has proven time and time again that it plays the best basketball in the world. Not to mention the risk of injury–just ask Blake Griffin.
Suggestion: Why not put together one group of players to serve as Team USA for a four-year period? Then Jerry Colangelo or whoever is in charge doesn’t have to beg anyone to play. The team shouldn’t be comprised of all NBA players. Half of the roster can be comprised of college players, while the remaining players could be made up of the NBA’s best young players. Allow that young group to represent the USA in all international competitions for a four-year period, including the World Championships and the Olympics. The continuity and camaraderie developed could help prevent last-second dropouts.
Will it happen? There’s nothing wrong with a little change.