NEW YORK – The NBA is proposing to withdraw its top players from Olympic basketball after the London Games and instead model the competition on the under-23 tournament used for football.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the plan would be discussed with world basketball authorities, due to fears from players and teams about potential burn-out from too many games.
“We are taking a very close look at whether it makes sense from an NBA standpoint and the global standpoint for the top players to be playing at that level on a year-round basis, summer after summer,” he told a news conference in New York.
Silver stressed they were “all in” for the London Olympics, which start on July 27, but he added: “Post-London Olympics, we want to step back… we want to take a long-term view of whether it makes sense for the NBA and for the game.”
The involvement of top NBA players has been a major draw at Olympic basketball tournaments ever since the USA’s so-called ‘Dream Team’ participated in the Barcelona Games in 1992.
The side, which won gold, included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and is credited with increasing the popularity of the game and the NBA across the world.
NBA commissioner David Stern said he was of the view that Olympic basketball should be about developing a new generation of players.
Sixteen men’s and 12 women’s teams will compete at football at the London Games. The men’s tournament is for under-23s, although each team is allowed to include three older players. There is no age restriction in the women’s event.