There was a bit of controversy before the first “Dream Team” was assembled to represent the USA in basketball in the 1992 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Games had been conceived as a showcase for amateur athletes and even though many countries had used professional players for years on their basketball squads; this nation stuck to fielding a team of college players. That resulted in Team USA coming in as also-rans in a game that was invented in this country.
Finally NBA players comprised the team for the games in Barcelona, not only winning the Gold Medal with ease; Larry, Magic, Michael and company were treated like rock stars during their time in Spain. When you talk to any player who was on that squad, they will tell you that it was one of the high points of their careers and truly an honor.That team would boost the Association to new heights as it was the impetus that has turned the NBA into a truly global-sport, with fans all over the planet.
I have always supported the concept of Team USA having a roster of NBA players, however after reading the comments from two All-Star players; I am starting to question whether we should return to the days of having college players represent us. “ESPN.com” has reported that Boston Celtics veteran guard Ray Allen and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade believe that players should be compensated monetarily for participating in the games.
Allen addressed the subject in an interview with Fox.com on Tuesday night before the Celtics defeated the Heat in Miami 115-107. The member of Team USA in 2000 said “You talk about the patriotism that guys should want to play for, but you (need to) find a way to entice the guys. It’s not the easiest thing in the world if you play deep in the playoffs and then you get two, three weeks off and then you start training again to play more basketball, where it requires you to be away from home and in another country. It’s fun, but your body does need a break.”
Wade spoke with reporters after the Heat’s Thursday practice and he echoed Allen’s sentiments. He told reporters “The biggest thing is now you get no rest. So you go to the end of the season, training camp is two weeks later. You’re giving up a lot to do it. It’s something you want to do. But it’s taxing on your body. You’re not playing for the dollar. But it would be nice if you would get compensated.”
There is a far easier and more practical solution for players from the Association who agree with Allen and Wade on this issue: Simply stay home and don’t play. If the honor and the experience are not enough compensation for you; then maybe you should not be on the team to begin with. If you need to be “enticed” then perhaps you do not deserve the honor of representing our nation at this world-wide event in London this summer.
It truly boggles my mind how greedy this pair come off after making these statements and one would think they would be smart enough not to even broach the subject. They would receive a lot more sympathy from this corner if we were living back in the sixties, when NBA players needed a job in the off-season to survive. Wade or Allen would not be giving up salaries selling cars or insurance for a paycheck; they would just be sacrificing their time.
Unfortunately statements such as the pair told reporters perpetuate the image that professional athletes only care about the money and don’t have the love of the game that their predecessors did. I support any athlete who tries to make as much money as they can from their Association salaries and commercial endorsements; however asking to be paid to play in the Olympics crosses the line in my mind.