FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said Friday that the David Stern-proposed age limit for Olympic basketball would “widen the divide” between the United States and the rest of the world, suggesting the rule had little chance of being implemented.
Baumann spoke to FIBA’s official website in a question-and-answer session, and he said it was “too early” to consider making such potentially drastic changes to the quality of basketball at the Olympics.
From a global perspective, the progress of the talent in all other countries doesn’t go at the same speed or the same pace as the USA. They don’t all have a school system like the USA. So the ability for the rest of the world to produce a lot of talent is not the same as the USA. As a result of that, lowering the age to U23 at the Olympics could actually widen the divide between the USA and the rest of the world.
There is also a more general issue of what the Olympic Games represent. The NBA, the IOC and FIBA, we have all earned a lot – not just in financial terms – from professional athletes being at the Olympics since 1992. This is the case with regards to the way basketball has grown, from where we were then to where we are now.
So it would be premature to make changes in the quality of basketball at the Olympics, especially before having maximised the potential of the World Cup. So it’s too early to make any changes in the Olympic programme.
SI.com’s Ian Thomsen reported on Aug. 9 that the age limit was “unlikely,” at least for 2016, and Baumann’s sentiments seem to confirm that feeling within FIBA. It means that a USA team in 2016 could feature LeBron James, who said Sunday that he would like to play for the fourth time in the 2016 Olympics. And it could also star Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, not to mention players like Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, who missed this round due to injury.