FIBA has spoken.
And their message to NBA Commissioner David Stern is this: We’re not changing the Olympics, bub.
In an in-house interview with FIBA.com, secretary general Patrick Baumann took a strong stance against changing to a 23-and-under rule, which Stern and NBA owners are pushing for.
Baumann said such a change would actually give the United States an unfair advantage because of the advanced developmental system in the U.S. compared to other countries.
“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,” Baumann said. “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.
Baumann is proposing moving the World Cup (formerly known as the World Championship) to one year prior to the Olympics, and making it the main Olympic qualification tournament. Baumann also said FIBA would again petition the ICO to increase the number of teams in the Olympic tournament from 12 to 16. The IOC has twice rejected this proposal.
FIBA also is petitioning the IOC to add 3-on-3 basketball to the game in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Changes to the World Cup would not be instituted until 2019.
- “From a rules perspective, tanking and flopping always remain issues we need to monitor and improve, but I am extremely happy about the strong officiating we had in London, with referees from all continents participating efficiently at each level of the tournament. The three-point line has been extended only recently but there is already a debate whether we should not have immediately moved to the NBA three-point distance.”
- “There are heated discussions about which is the prime event between the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Olympic Basketball Tournament. It’s not about comparing the two. They have different values and we benefit from both. Certainly in terms of the sport aspect, the FIBA Basketball World Cup is more intense because the best teams are really there. But the Olympics represent something much bigger with its values and the fact that winning an Olympic medal is probably the dream of a lifetime for every athlete. We can’t refuse that.”
- The NBA and FIBA absolutely need to keep working together. There is no other solution for basketball to grow from where it is now to where it can go next. I’m sure the IOC wants the NBA’s best athletes to keep on playing in the Olympics, we want that too as well as, of course, at the World Cup. And we’ve heard that the players want to come to the Olympics. Also, the NBA wants to continue to progress globally, to benefit from basketball’s popularity and growth. We need to find the right way to define the structure of our competitions in general – it’s about the World Cup, how you qualify for it, how many games the players have to play in the four-year cycle. It’s not just about the two weeks of the Olympics. So it’s a whole package that we’ve been working on for a year now. Within that package, the Olympic Games are an important piece. As I said, we will make some tough decisions at the end of the year about how we strengthen the World Cup, how new countries can climb the ranking and how we ensure the NBA stays within the FIBA basketball family so that have 20 more years of growth coming up at the same speed if not better, because we feel we can do better.
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