Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant let the media know what he thinks about NBA Commissioner David Stern's idea of not allowing players 23 years of age and older compete in the Olympics, calling it a "stupid" proposition, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
"It's a stupid idea," Bryant told local reporters at the reception to welcome them to Manchester in advance of Thursday night's exhibition game here against Team Great Britain. "It should be a (player's) choice. [O]ur discussion is this: Basically, it's just a dumb idea and we (discuss) it that way. ... We just discuss it like that (and) kind of voice our opinions through you (media) guys."
Stern has expressed interest in adopting a concert similar to the one used in men's Olympic soccer, in which each team is allowed only three players 23 years of age and older to compete.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been one of Stern's biggest supporters of the rule, saying in a report from the Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports that "when your country is counting on you, it's hard to say no." The report points out that Cuban could be a big supporter of the proposed rule in part because of "Dirk Nowitzki's futile bid to help Germany qualify for London by competing in the European championship last summer shortly after winning the NBA title."
In other words, players might find it difficult to turn down the opportunity to represent their country even though they know their body needs rest.
The discussion is particularly relevant this summer, as team USA's Blake Griffin, who sat out his entire rookie year because of injury, suffered a meniscus tear during practice on July 11 and underwent surgery that will keep him out of the Olympics.
But while Stern and Cuban see the Olympics as an opportunity for a star player to risk injury and thus jeopardize the season for an NBA team, Bryant sees the Olympics as a safer option than not competing in organized basketball:
"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. They could be playing against a bunch of bums -- no, really -- guys that feel like they have something to prove and all of a sudden, a (star player) goes to the rim and a guy takes them out and now he's hurt.
In Olympic play, Bryant said, teams have treatment "around the clock" and therefore, it's actually better for the players and the owners.
In the report, Bryant's teammates, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, said they share his view. Paul said he would "like for it to be your own decision," calling the Olympics the greatest experience of his life.
Team USA Chairman Jerry Colangelo agrees with them as well, saying he hopes Stern doesn't try to change anything:
"I don't want to change anything because I like what we have," Colangelo told the Times earlier this month. "We take care of our players and I think we do the right things."