Kobe Bryant had some harsh words for David Stern yesterday when he said he believed Stern’s idea to impose a 23-and-under age limit on the Olympic basketball team was flat-out “stupid,” according to ESPN.
In the wake of a condensed 66-game season and the dropping out of many Olympic hopefuls due to injuries, David Stern was one of many who proposed Team USA select only younger players to preserve the health of veteran superstars like Bryant.
Four members of Team USA — LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden — barely had a few weeks of rest after the NBA Finals before suiting up for the Olympic squad.
But Bryant doesn’t like the idea of keeping NBA vets away from the Olympics.
“It’s a stupid idea. It should be a (player’s) choice.”
Kobe also said the rest of Team USA agrees with him:
“Our discussion is this: Basically, it’s just a dumb idea and we (discuss) it that way.”
He did have a sound argument against keeping veterans away, though. Bryant says players are going to play basketball throughout the summer regardless, and it’s safer to play in an environment as structured as the Olympics than at a local pick-up game.
“If I’m an owner, I would want my player to play (internationally) because I understand that they’re going to be playing anyway, going to be playing pickup basketball in the summertime, and I’m not going to be able to know where they are…. Here you’re playing against the best guys, you have treatment around the clock, your (NBA) coaching staff can always come sit in the stands and view practice.”
Plus, as evidenced by Team USA’s unconvincing 80-69 win in an exhibition against Brazil, the worldwide talent gap has closed significantly. To remain the unquestioned best national team in the world, Team USA needs players like Bryant and James to stay competitive.
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