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NBA PM: Lockout Affecting Team USA?
Posted By Alex Raskin On August 8, 2011 @ 5:11 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
In the midst of this abysmal work stoppage, there is a silver lining for USA Basketball fans. Jerry Colangelo, the man who assembles the dream team for international competitions, is being flooded with calls from players who want one of the 15 roster spots for the 2012 Olympics.
“I haven’t even really started reaching out, and I’m (fielding) calls,” Colangelo told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “They’re calling me. They’re calling me to say they’re playing.”
However there are some issues standing between NBA players and their Olympic dreams. Most importantly, it will be hard for players to get insured for international competitions and this is where Team USA’s interests and the NBA’s might conflict.
As Aldridge points out, the NBA and Team USA are so intertwined at this point that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other (Colangelo’s son Bryan is the president of the Raptors and he is the former owner of the Phoenix Suns). That’s why Colangelo made a point of articulating his belief that the lockout will not have a crippling effect on the 2012 team.
“I think it’s important that people in the basketball world – fans, media – understand something very basic,” he told Aldridge. “USA Basketball is self-sustaining. It’s its own entity. It is not an arm of the NBA. The board is made up of people like (players’ union executive director) Billy Hunter. There are people from the NBA and the NCAA. USA Basketball at one time had trouble raising money. The NBA was willing to be a backup from a financial point of view and cover any shortfall.”
Aldridge credits Colangelo with turning USAB around financially (Colangelo repeated that the organization is “self-sustaining” and added that “The NBA gives us people when we need people for events.”), but the most important thing he’s done is to bring top-level NBA players back into the fold.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant—a key member of the 2008 “Redeem Team”—is definitely going to play in London, a source told Aldridge, and guys like Kevin Durant, who played well in the 2010 World Championships, could decide to play as well. The biggest question, writes Aldridge, is whether Miami’s Big 3 will decide to participate if the lockout is still ongoing.
Team USA has to submit a roster to the Olympics next June, so plenty can change before then. Colangelo admits he doesn’t have a plan if the lockout continues, but figures he can pull together enough former Team USA players to bring home the gold. (Remember, playing internationally during the lockout is difficult, because NBA contracts could be voided if someone seriously injured himself away from his team)
“I would hope people would take care of their business,” he said of the labor dispute. “I know all of the issues from both sides, the pros and cons. I have to look at it from a different perspective as chairman of USA Basketball. We’re moving ahead. We’re fielding a team. The only question is who’s going to be on it. We have to submit a roster to FIBA by next June… we’re going to have a great response to participation in 2012 from our players. We have the depth of the players, looking at the Olympic roster and the World Championship roster, to field a team.”
Even if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh skip the Olympics, Team USA should remain the favorite. If Bryant and Durant return, the bulk of the scoring would already be accounted for. Players who competed in 2010, like Clippers guard Eric Gordon, Bulls guard Derrick Rose, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook could add plenty of depth to the backcourt, while Timberwolves big man Kevin Love and Mavericks center Tyson Chandler provide more than enough rebounding. After that, any handful of role players could get the job done.
Yes, Spain remains a serious threat to America’s Gold medal aspirations (Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka give Spain almost as much front-court depth as America has), but it’s hard to imagine Colangelo struggling to find the right mix for the London Olympics, even if the lockout continues to rage on in the summer of 2012.
Ben Gordon Passing?
As rich as America is when it comes to basketball talent (for instance, New Hampshire native Matt Bonner is trying to become a Canadian citizen, in part, so he would have a chance to play in the Olympics), sometimes it can be hard to remember that this is not yet a truly global game.
Yes, basketball’s popularity is soaring in places like Turkey and the Philippines, but the sport has a long way to go in some major economies, like Great Britain, for instance.
Pistons guard Ben Gordon, who has both American and British citizenship, likely will not play for Great Britain in EuroBasket because of insurance issues, The Telegraph’s Brendan Gallagher reported.
“We are obviously very disappointed that Ben is not able to join us this year but we fully understand and respect his decision,” Great Britain performance director Chris Spice told Gallagher. “This is a difficult and complex insurance issue caused primarily by the NBA lockout. We have done our best to provide a cover that is close to what we would have in a normal season but in the end things didn’t work out from a financial or scope of cover perspective.
“We have built the reputation of our the reputation of our programme (that’s “program” on our side of the Atlantic) to such a level that where the players are concerned, all the professional clubs know that their players are well provided for when they are with the British squad,” Spice continued. “Unfortunately for both Ben and ourselves we are unable to connect again this year.”
Just like with the American players, Gordon would have needed a large insurance policy in case he injured himself away from the Pistons to protect himself against the potential voiding of his contract. However, that apparently wasn’t a problem for Bulls forward Luol Deng, who plans on playing for Britain in EuroBasket.
As for Spice, he still hopes Gordon can play for the home team at the 2012 Olympics.
“It will be doubly important that next year we have everything in place for Ben to join us on day one of the programme as every day he is with us will be key to performing at our peak for London 2012,” Spice said.
Check out: Chris Singleton
Besides Rhodes Scholar and former football player Myron Rolle, Florida State athletes don’t always have scholarly reputations. However Wizards rookie Chris Singleton is moving against that trend by returning to FSU during the lockout and helping some friends start a clothing line.
“You know, it is a lot of fun because we are just getting it started and getting it off the ground,” Singleton told Sporting News’ Sean Deveney of Doughpe Clothing. “It’s an urban T-shirt line, something I am just trying to make people aware of, do the marketing and see how much interest we can get going for it. We just launched it. But it is already off to a pretty good start. We have the time to do something like this right now, so why not try it?”
Singleton, who has been working out in Atlanta with Josh Smith and Iman Shumpert, isn’t getting too down on the lockout yet, even though he’s paid close attention.
“It’s your job, so you have to watch it, whether you like it or not,” Singleton said. “But at the same time, it is not like there is a whole lot you can do to change the situation—you can only work on things that cou can control, and that’s out of our hands. There hasn’t been anything to move forward on anyway, or even look at. But you just have to try to stay up to date, then be ready in case it ends quickly.”
It sounds like Singleton is ready for no matter what comes his way. Definitely give this article a read if you get a chance.
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