Idea for cash gold for players

“You talk about the patriotism that guys should want to play for, but you need to find a way to entice the guys.”

That’s Ray Allen, a 15-year professional basketball player, who voiced his opinion that NBA players should be compensated monetarily for participation in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Allen, who won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, is 36. He’s so far out of his prime and over the hill that he’s reached the bottom on the other side. There’s no way he’d make it onto my USA squad.

The Boston Celtics veteran guard also listed the limited time off players from playoff contenders face before they must get back in the gym and start training for a gold medal run. Nowhere did Allen mention the fact that he and other NBA players should have fresh legs after playing a lockout-shortened 66-game season instead of the normal 82 games.

Allen then called NBA players “commodities” and protested that the offseason is the best time to pick up some extra spending money, via youth basketball camps and the like.

Don’t forget that the Olympic Committee grants cash payments to medal winners: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. And don’t forget a place in the Olympic record books, though there’s no signing bonus for that.

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade also put his two cents in, claiming that the NBA athletes see minimal profit from the funds collected for Olympic jersey sales, TV deals, etc. Days later, Wade clarified his comments on Twitter, stating rather that his love for basketball and the opportunity to represent the United States motivates him “more than any $$$ amount.” Notice the emphasis on three dollar signs instead of one.

I suppose it is lost on these superstars that most athletes train their entire lives for the opportunity to perform trials, qualify and only say they reached the Olympics. In a league where several of its athletes are already global icons, the limelight calling from London is barely a flickering strobe.

Some Olympic viewers might have forgotten that baseball and softball have been omitted from this year’s Games. Although most baseball athletes at the professional level opt out of their Olympic invitations, the Games are held right in the August heat of the MLB’s 162-game season. Besides, most of the time a baseball pro’s employer is the one shredding the Olympic invitation. Why pay Albert Pujols while he’s off hitting homers against Yugoslavia instead of the Texas Rangers?

Because of that, college prodigies and consistent minor leaguers earned the opportunity to mount the baseball diamond wearing red, white and blue. Now though, the Olympic Committee has spoken, and America’s pastime won’t entertain the rest of the globe.

But with these miserly complaints from NBA players wanting more “incentive” to compete for their country, I begin to wonder why basketball wasn’t axed from the Olympic schedule instead.

 

DAN KUBACKI

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