As an American, the NBA-proposed U23 requirement for Olympic competition has me torn. I love the idea of a relatively uncertain field and I love the idea of America utterly dominating any field with regularity. These ideas are completely irrelevant from a big picture perspective, as NBA owners are simply interested in cashing in on a basketball world cup and are tired of watching the International Olympic Committee make money off their players.
Never mind that time off from the League is supposed to be sort of free time and national pride is nothing to sneeze at. Since a 'no Olympics' clause has about as much chance of making its way into the next CBA as David Stern has of being invited to Dwayne Wade's next birthday party, the NBA is looking to pad their profit margins, I mean, protect the health of their international players. Non-standardized health care is a legitimate concern...one easily addressed without co-opting the World Cup format. The creed is greed, but oddly enough, I don't really mind in this instance; this was inevitable for other reasons.
This is the brave new world of the forty-eight hour news cycle and the young Olympians roaring out of obscurity are tailor made for the instant consumption media culture. That culture demands fresh stories and that's why there won't be much of an uproar, if any, from the general public. When most of us think of the Olympics, we think of teenagers with tragic and/or inspiring stories who haven't lived their lives in the crucible of the hype machine...a U23 requirement simply seems more in touch with the spirit of the Games.
Forget the NBA and FIBA trying to protect their cash flow, I don't want to be the Lakers of Olympic basketball. I want to watch the kind of great moments that only occur when the toughest competition in the world realizes the absolute best of human potential from an athlete no one expected. That's what the Olympics is about, to me. While I can only wonder who the NBA thinks they're fooling with their 'medical reasons' for a World Cup of Basketball, it seems like a purer form of Olympic spirit might result and then who am I to argue?