Maybe NBA players competing at Olympics isn’t a good idea
By RICK TELANDER email@example.com July 29, 2012 10:18AM
Olympics Day 2 - Basketball
- U.S. men beat France 98-71 in basketball
- Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander: Live Tweets from London 2012 Olympics
- Note to Hope Solo: Criticism comes with the spotlight
- U.S. tops women’s gymnastics, but champ Wieber doesn’t
- A roundup of Olympic action from Sunday
- Raisman steps into limelight after Olympic stunner bumps champ
- French get revenge for 2008, beat U.S. in relay
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:42PM
LONDON — Here at the Basketball Pavilion, as the U.S. men’s team beats up on France, two questions come to mind:
How about that funky ball?
And, why are all these NBA guys playing?
Well, the ball is actually quite nice, in my opinion — a yellow and orange leather orb that looks a bit like a new Gucci handbag. When it spins, it resembles a rotating cheese potato.
But the NBA guys — for both the USA and France — I don’t know about that.
The Americans toyed with the French men, casually beating them to a pulp, 98-71. The event was more like a McDonald’s All Star game than true competition.
With America’s Russell Westbrook running crazily up and down the floor and Chris Paul trying a three-part air-dribble that even the Globetrotters wouldn’t allow, I have to wonder if it’s a good thing to have these multi-millionaires playing for something other than dollars.
It’s not like they’re overtly not trying. Carmelo Anthony ended up in a photographer’s lap chasing a loose ball in the first half. And old Kobe Bryant had his poker face on.
But Kevin Durant dribbled so much in one series that he ended up sliding to the floor, self-checking himself to death.
Wouldn’t young players who have been together as a U.S. team for months and months be better than these quasi-All Star Games? Other than Tony Parker, the French team had no one of the U.S. players’ skill set. But France’s Florent Pietrus, Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Kevin Seraphim are all NBA players, as well. Just not stars.
Yes, the Olympics used to be played with, quote, amateurs — even if the Soviets and other Eastern Bloc players were often old, true, pros — and it’s virtually impossible to determine the boundaries of “amateurism.”
But playing with young men — nobody older than, say, 22 — might be a more enjoyable Olympic treat. Age group, that’s all.
We have the NBA Championships, the World Championships, and other championships.
Make this different. Like with Kobe Bryant’s kids.