The FIBA Basketball world championships are underway; feel the excitement!
The NBA, FIBA, Mark Cuban and people behind the scenes are attempting to turn the FIBA championships into the basketball World Cup. They have expanded the field to 32 teams and wish to make it the biggest thing in basketball…you know, besides the NBA playoffs.
Having a soccer World Cup makes sense to me. Lessening the impact and importance of Olympic basketball in order to focus on a basketball World Cup only makes sense under one condition: Olympic basketball becomes amateur basketball.
At least for the United States basketball teams, the Olympics should be a competition between the best amateur athletes, just like all the other sports. Send our best college guys; it will be awesome to root for them and see them playing with each other to boot. Olympic basketball as previously constructed was kind of a joke anyway. The USA was going to win ever four years. The only thing up in the air was by how much.
Based on the current FIBA US roster, the NBA guys are not interested in participating in both tournaments. Right now, it’s the Olympics that draws them. If they were no longer able to play in the Olympics, logic dictates they would instead play for the World Cup title.
It’s certainly possible FIBA, Cuban, and everyone else will gamble on this and lose. Perhaps the World Cup of basketball never catches on because of competition, timing or what have you. But the adjustment to the Olympic roster will certainly help the cause.
The US rallied late to beat out Turkey for a FIBA tourney victory yesterday. Kenneth Faried apparently saved the day. Not only should Faried not be saving anything for USA basketball. If the World Cup is supposed to develop into what everyone hopes, he won’t even be on the roster next time.
I’m a bit torn on this topic for several reasons, but let me first make one thing clear. During almost any other time of year this tournament would be interesting, but I currently could care less about the FIBA tournament and did not even know the US had won anything until you just told me. It is football season. The NBA has its work cut out, attempting to garner interest in a seemingly new round of basketball when our entire country is on a basketball break.
First and foremost, I love USA basketball decimating the world to win a gold medal every four years. This is nationalism at its best and is the same reason Brazilians were so devastated when they got knocked out of this year’s FIFA World Cup. They expect to win, want to rub victory in the world’s faces, and were heart broken to have that taken away. The Olympics still mean a lot to the world and to the United States. It is NOT amateur athletics. Sure, young kids do compete, but only after training for years of their life. There is nothing amateur about the commitment needed to be an Olympian. And there is nothing amateur about the income and endorsements that flow your way if you manage to win gold.
Diluting a great product, Olympic basketball, goes against the very reason that the NBA wants to bolster this FIBA world cup tournament. Olympic basketball elevates the NBA brand worldwide. The entire world watches as NBA players destroy everyone. It is the best free advertising available to the NBA. The only other sports league that gets this in America is the NHL, but America barely takes notice. The FIFA World Cup does this same thing for the European soccer leagues. But MLB and the NFL do not have this free advertising on a world stage.
It feels good to get that off my chest, because ultimately I do like the idea of a new basketball tournament full of NBA caliber players. However, I’m not convinced the FIBA world cup is the answer.
Photo courtesy of nextimpulsesports.com; FIBA logo via www.interbasket.net