David Stern Proposes 23 and Under Rule for Olympic Basketball

The commish suggested that he’d like to see an age limit of 23 years old and under placed on the U.S. Olympic Team, moving forward. The elder statesman of this year’s team Kobe Bryant fired back at the commissioner without filter. “It’s a stupid idea,” said the future Hall-of-Famer, “It should be the (player’s) choice.” As the catalyst for the defending Gold Medal winning 2008 team, Bryant’s opinion seemed to be echoed throughout his entire team. “Our discussion is this: Basically, it’s a dumb idea and we discuss it that way, and voice our opinions through you (media) guys” said the L.A. Lakers star.

                The Olympic Team shifted towards including NBA Stars with the infamous 1992 “Dream Team,” which featured 11 Hall of Famers. The ’92 team restored basketball dominance to the United States, which was maintained until the 2004 team only managed a Bronze medal in the International competition. Ironically, the third place finishing squad featured a similar youth movement that Stern recently suggested. Only four players on the ’04 team were over the age of 24 (Allen Iverson 29, Tim Duncan 28, Shawn Marion 26, & Stephon Marbury 27). The team was exposed for its lack of outside shooting, and relied solely on its athleticism. In the first game of the tournament, the U.S. Men were defeated by a Puerto Rico team that was completely inferior in talent, 92-73. The U.S. team featured some of today’s brightest stars, in Carmelo Anthony (20), Dwyane Wade (22), LeBron James (19) and Amar’e Stoudemire (24).

While the ’04 team sounds like it’d completely decimate an International All-Star team, it lacked the mental toughness that comes along with NBA experience. This mental toughness was something that Kobe Bryant instilled in the 2008 Olympic Team which was coined the “Redeem Team.” The ’08 team restored the U.S. to glory by capturing the Gold Medal, and returning it to America. Many of the players on that team raved about everything they learned from Bryant, who was a team captain. Coach K also praised the Mamba for his leadership and considered him to be an extension of the coaching staff, on the floor. The logic behind the Redeem Team was to mix youthful exuberance with veteran leadership. The team featured six players 24 years or younger and only one player above the age of 30 (Jason Kidd, 35). Regardless of the abundance of youth, an argument can be made that the team may have found it a little more difficult to land the Gold without its veteran leaders.

    Hypothetically speaking, if Commissioner Stern got his wish the 2012 roster would likely resemble the 2004 team in terms of future stars. Three of the brightest stars in the NBA are integral parts of this year’s squad, and also have experience in the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden would all make the cut under the 23 & under rule, but who else would join them? Under this new Stern Law, the 12-man U.S. Olympic Team would likely look something like this:

Guards – Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, James Harden, Derrick Rose, & Eric Gordon

Forwards – Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, & Derrick Favors

Centers – DeMarcus Cousins

Players like Brook Lopez, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, and Greg Monroe would also receive consideration, with Holiday being the likeliest of candidates to get the nod over one of the players listed above.

When evaluating a team such as the hypothetical squad listed above, it seems to fit many of the areas of necessity. The team is full of athleticism from top to bottom and includes the necessary perimeter shooters in Durant, Harden, Love and Gordon. Rebounding and inside presence is there with Cousins, Griffin, Love, Davis and Favors, while Westbrook, Rose, Wall and Irving would run circles around every team they encountered. The only area that the team could be lacking in would be perimeter defense. Durant is improving in the area, but Westbrook is the only known defender above the free-throw line. Anthony Davis has the ability to step out and defend, but being the baby of the bunch means the jury is still out. A team like Spain would also give this team all it could handle in the post, which is another area that could use a slight upgrade in proven defenders.

                While this team looks highly competitive, is it good enough to capture a Gold Medal? What do you think?

One Response to “David Stern Proposes 23 and Under Rule for Olympic Basketball”
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