Lets Talk NBA & Olympics & WC …again

I’ve writting about this mutiple times before, but its been several years.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the NBA is making a huge mistake by letting our players participate in the Olympics and its qualifying competitions. Anyone who thinks the Olympics are anything more or less than a business ought to try to bid on the TV rights or talk to any of the many businesses who have been sued for trademark infringements .(they even challenged a company for calling their Robotic competition the RoboOlympics). Here is a frame of reference for you. The combined TV contract for ONE Summer & Winter Olympics is MORE than every year of the entire current NBA TV deal combined !

The Olympics may be litigious, but they aren’t stupid. Where else can you get to use another compay’s products for free ? Maybe CBS will lend Katie Couric to NBC every couple years. According to the NBA, its good business.

The underlying issue is how we buy into unsupportable myths.

  1. The Dream Team Ignited Basketball around the world.

Wrong. There is no question the Dream Team was a big event. The first professionals to play. The NBA’s big stars. It was huge in the USA. But to say it ignited the development of International Basketball is patting ourselves on the back a little too much.

The reality is that the sport of basketball has grown, as have other sports, over the past 15 years for quite a few reasons:

DIgital Media– Sports that were not accessible to countries around the world suddenly were available in restaurants, bars , internet cafes and community centers around the world on Sports Networks and websites created entirely to sports. Every sport is available anywhere. The first Dream Team was 1992, the rise of basketball most closely matches the growth in digital media that really got going 3 or 4 years later.

Digital Media made it easier to share coaching techniques, tapes/DVDs of games and to watch the best in any sport. I played rugby in college, the only way our team could see the great rugby teams of the world play back then was by buying or renting tapes from Rugby Magazine. Now any basketball player or coach can get unlimited information and video online to anywhere in the world. That alone isnt enough, but it certainly helps.

The world has become a smaller place.

Money : Cash is king around the world, even in the most Communist of countries. As you can tell from the
Olympics own site, they give out a TON of cash to international federations every year. The Olympics bring
in 4 BILLION plus dollars every Olympic cyle. 92 percent of that money is distributed . International Federations that provide athletes to the Olympics get about $10mm each. Thats a lot of money to spend on developing their sport. On the flipside, its still relatively cheap to rollout a basketball and put up a basic
hoop on a telephone pole.

Money is an amazing motivator. Everywhere around the world young kids with special athletic talent are targeted for development by someone with a financial interest of one kind or another. Its not just basketball of course. The NHL has had a junior system that has worked out incredibly well. Soccer. Tennis. Boxing. Racing. Every sport has its vultures on the look out for the next “phenom”

If you can develop talent and get them to the NBA. NBA teams pay to get players out of their contracts to overseas teams. Those players often have contracts that require them to pay the team that hired them. Money, money, money.

Money also matters to the players and teams. Now that the USA has lost, its going to be really interesting

Reality: If you are 6’5″ or bigger, and a good athlete living outside the US or Canada, just what exactly are your choices ? How many 6’5 or taller players were in the Soccer World Cup ? 1 that i could find. F1 is huge in Europe. Awful tough to fit in a car at that size. Tennis, hockey, baseball, track, horse racing, other than maybe boxing/cagefighting/sumo, if you are a big guy, your choices are limited. Just look at the rosters of NBA Teams last year. Out of about 87 international players, I found 6 from overseas. Tall guys play basketball. Just like they did before 1992, and have ever since

The reality is that if the NBA never played another basketball game outside of North America, none of the above would change.


2. The NBA makes a ton of money from international basketball.

We dont. And lets leave it at that. International basketball has lots of potential for the NBA… it always has and it always will.

3. How the USA performs in the Olympics and World Championships Matters.
It doesn’t. Hardcore basketball fans like me are happy to watch. I love watching pretty much any and all basketball. But there arent enough people like me out there when it comes to the WC this year. An amazing All Star team of our best and brightest and there wasnt a blip of an uproar about TV schedules or replays. And when we lost, our Dallas paper thought it was enough to run an AP wire report as did most major papers reporting on the game. They didnt care enough to send someone to cover the games.

And the uproar on talk radio about the loss ? I must have missed it. With the start of the NFL season around the corner, the 53rd spot on a roster during cut down week was more discussed when I listened in.

4. Winning International Basketball is about national pride.
Maybe it is in other countries. Its not here. Maybe its like the soccer World Cup here. TV ratings were up considerably , even with odd ball playing times. I watched because I knew we were the underdog and it would be a major fete if the USA won. This is only a guess, but beating a team full of NBA All Stars. Guys with shoe contracts would be a big deal to me if I lived elsewhere.

The reality in the USA however is that its a corporate endeavor. USA Basketball is controlled by the NBA. Sure there is a committee, but the guy in charge is a former NBA owner. The last guy in charge was and is an NBA employee. The NBA thinks this is a good business move. I obviously disagree.

5. The Bottom Line
If anyone in the US really cared about winning international basketball grade schools, junior highs and high schools would change their games to mesh with the international game. Has anyone even suggested it ? Has there been one smattering of “Our National Pride is at stake” from a small town that wants to standup for US Basketball and volunteer to change the rules ?

Personally, I want what our fans and customers want. I love the NBA game. Sure there are rule changes I want to see, (Like move the charge circle further away from the basket to protect players in the air and allow any kind of defense) but the reality is that our game is very good. I dont care if the USA wins or loses., I care if the Mavs win or lose. Based on the response around the country to the WCs, it appears that most American basketball fans feel the same way. They care more about their team and the NBA than international competition.

Im also curious to see what kind of c
hanges they make to the team and how players respond. Since the team has to play again next summer, will they change personnel ? That might suggest that its not about “learning the international game”, or “having time together as a team” as an issue. It will also be interesting to see what happens if any players happen to become Free Agents next summer, or duing the Olympic Summer.

Im not against International Basketball. I think it can be a decent business if done right. Unfortunately for the NBA, this is the only place where we give away our trademark and assets and we shouldn’t. If the game of basketball truly has grown to the level of interest we all think and hope it has, then we should just dump playing for the Olympics and hold our own tournament. If we were really , really smart, we would work with the NHL,NFL , MLB, the USA Track and Field organizations, Tennis and other sports with strong professional bases and create our own games. Then supporting the international development of the games would make sense. Then we could have bidding to host the SuperGames. To provide TV coverage. To sponsors. A Winter SuperGames, A Summer SuperGames every 4 years.

That would be fun.

53 thoughts on “Lets Talk NBA & Olympics & WC …again

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  2. Hi Mark, I like many people are playing fantasy basketball, i have joined a league i am convinced helps determine how well a player is producing or how best to use him in the line up. the league scores like this.
    A player’s KF Average is calculated by adding the total number of points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks he accrues during the week, and dividing that figure by the total number of NBA minutes he played.

    The Mavericks Gms Pts Assts Rbds Stls Blks KFPts Mins kf ave

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    Josh Howard 59 923 111 371 68 26 1499 1885 0.795
    Jason Terry 80 1371 306 158 100 27 1962 2757 0.712
    Devin Harris 56 554 177 125 53 16 925 1252 0.739
    Erick Dampier 82 469 51 640 27 106 1293 1900 0.681
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    as examples. the closer you are to 1.00 the better.
    if you are interested in more information, go to kfba.com
    You can look at the FAQ, or the rules and it would help explain more in depth, just wanted to run by you.

    thank you

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  5. What are the chances of seeing the all star game consisting of usa nba players v the international players? The current format of east v west is far less interesting than watching greece v usa. And for what it is worth my money would be on the international nba team beating the usa nba team…

    Comment by 11nong -

  6. Money? haha. I am spanish, when my team won the world championship of basketball I felt as if I were part of the team. I went to the street and I saw thousands people celebrating the title. Its about pride. The world championship is a battle between countries and we won. The players are heroes now. And let my tell you that the money has nothing to do with this:

    .

    PS:Hello Commissioner David Stern, don’t you think it is time to stop calling the winner of your league “world champion”?

    Comment by spaniard -

  7. Mr. CUBAN,
    Thanks for Your Insights and “the Balls” to
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    Congratulations on being 1 of the 621 Club.
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    in the World.

    You’re right on with the Olympic “Movement”
    being all Business. The corruption of the IOC
    was well documented on 60 Minutes. Same with
    the UN, WHO, Pentagon, & Pharmaceutical Co’s.
    Apparently Cash is King, Values are for Chumps
    and Money Changes Everything. At least that’s the
    Outer Illusion. Real Power is From Within.

    Yeah the Original Dream Team was Great and the
    US couldn’t get enough of it. Now no one’s talking
    about it. America Only Loves a Winner. Perfect
    example the Lakers Fans, a couple of years ago
    100’s of Thousands of cars on LA streets had Laker
    flags with suction cups attached to their car windows,
    flying proudly. Now, when they’re not champs, You
    Literally Can’t Find ONE Car with a Flag – NOT ONE.
    What kind of Fan is that? Where is the pride, I ask.

    Do You know why all NBA TV Games are BLACKED OUT in China?
    Games are Televised on ESPN Asia to Asian Countries, except
    China. Is it because the govt.doesn’t want their people to
    see Yao Ming Prospering in America ?

    Have You ever Considered Selling the Mavericks Now, while
    the Value is at an all time high?

    And Lastly, Man, You Got Me Thinking with the Idea of Why
    Not Start Our Own Games. Brilliant. Why Not? I checked and
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    Take All. I and Millions of Others Would Pay Good Money
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    May You Be the World’s First TRILLIONAIRE.

    Peace.

    Comment by Bill in Bangkok -

  8. brilliant.

    Comment by jason -

  9. I really disagree to most of your opinions. USA team is there to participate in International Basketball Competitions because of Pride, it might be national pride or pride for self as a player because for once they are able to compete with practically unknown players around the world, and here they are the NBA players with multi million contracts eager to show why they deserve to have such contracts to the rest of the world.
    Among the professional workers here in the world, Pro Basketball player has the highest pride. International Basketball Competitions are just like wars that each contry would love to show their artilliary and would really love to be the superior nation. NBA players would really love to route their oponents just to show their skills and talents, infact if they won by a large margin, during the post game interviews they will really imposed dominance and fearful statements just to scare off their next oponents. That is why for me it is really a big humiliation and big slap to the faces of those famous lazy millionares in the NBA that they get beaten by Unknown players who plays basketball for the love of the game and not for money.

    Comment by fritz -

  10. NBA players don’t play fundamental basketball, hence their problems in international competition.

    Plus, why do we play three different games in the USA — high-school rules, college rules, NBA rules — while the rest of the world plays one game? Time to put all of our platforms on international rules.

    Solution — let the Harlem Globetroters represent the USA! They are a full-time team, not a bunch of mismatched all-stars.

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  11. Ah, I get it. As long as you are in on the take, then it’s ok. Bad attitude, Mark. I have a better idea. Why don’t you stick to running the Mavs and the let NBA players and coaches decide what they want to do with their lives away from the NBA.

    As far as Olympic spirit, I think you are way off base. The competition is real, exciting and meaningful (in all sports). Who cares if dollars are involved–that doesn’t cheapen it by itself. Dollars are involved in the NBA too and you seem to find that pretty exciting.

    I think your opinion about the Olympics, and the warm-up WC, is skewed by the fact that your business (the Mavs) and your assets (your players)are put at risk by NBA involvement. You are saying you might be more willing to accept that risk if you are directly making money off it. In other words, you WOULD be a fan if the competition was an extention of the NBA.

    That sounds like a terrible idea. For me, that would ruin the spirit of “international” competition. Play our game, by our rules, with our refs, to the benefit of our packet book etc.

    That would be NO fun.

    Comment by David -

  12. This is where I beleive US attitudes, differ from most of the rest of the world.

    Growing up in Australia, we always believed that “There can be no greater honour, than representing your country”.

    It does not matter if this was on the sporting field, the business field or politically, it does not really matter.

    What matters is that your country, has chosen you as their “champion”.

    Comment by Dane -

  13. Check this link out about the IOC going after a small pizzeria in Vancouver over their use of the olympic rings that tehy have been using for over 15 years…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060224.woly-trademark24/BNStory/

    Comment by Dave -

  14. It boils down to it is not good publicity when the “best of the best” lose to a bunch of high school kids. In a lot of ways (especially the USA getting their arses handed to them time and again) it goes to show what is wrong with American basketball….To much emphasis on showboat — the skills get lost along the way.

    Comment by dustyt -

  15. Mark –

    Right on target about the Olympics and their commercial interests. I can’t wait to read your blog about the NCAA … or did I miss it?

    The world is getting smaller … think about how the French feel about their Tour de France … the last French champion was in 1985!

    DG

    Comment by DG -

  16. Ignoring the finances, and just looking at the state of the game, it is obvious that we have slipped big time. Does anyone remember how the Celtics of a few years back whipped the ball around the perimeter looking for a good shot? The Lakers of Magic & Kareem playing team basketball?

    Our big men can’t shoot from outside. None of our players seem able to shoot clutch foul shots. Blocking out on rebounds?

    NBA offense consists of four guys watching one guy go one on one.
    NBA refs hold on to their jobs by protecting the stars and the home court advantage.

    ESPN only highlights dunks, fights and “in your face” attitude.

    NCAA cynically reduces the practice time coaches have with their players so that the “students” can “study”.

    If we don’t want to be an international afterthought we should switch to international rules.

    Mark, unlike you, I find the NBA game boring. I watched exactly one NBA game from start to finish last year; the last game of the season. March Madness beats the NBA playoffs all to pieces.

    Comment by Bill Dick -

  17. Even as a fan of the NY Rangers who arguably lost their chance at the stanley cup due to injuries caused in part by the Olympics I have to take the rare opportunity to disagree with your post.

    Unlike ‘All Star’ games the Olympics/WC provide a rare opportunity for the best of the best play their best games. Why should the NBA have the right to deny play at that level. To two of your points:

    #1 – I’d argue that the NBA product is more than just its players and they are no more giving up their product than a 9-5 employee working at a soup kitchen is betraying their company.

    #2 – While the national pride at sake may be more the pride of the players than the pride of the country that makes it no less important.

    Comment by Brian -

  18. I liked the Olympics better when it was full of amateurs – like the 70s hockey team we talk non-stop about – that was when a win actually meant something.

    Watching million dollar athletes whine when they lose leaves me cold and rooting for the underdog.

    If I were an Owner I would have a no Olympics clause in my players contracts.

    Comment by lulu -

  19. I think it’s fair to say the Olympics & the IOC are flawed in many ways — from corruption, to the false pretense of “amateurs” competing against each other — but the competition is still popular in many parts of the world & it’s important for the US to be part of it.

    I don’t know enough about the history/organization of the basketball World Championships to pass judgment on it but I do think it’s even more important for the USA to participate. Obviously a decision needs to be taken by the NBA & the NBA team owners as to the exact nature of the Team USA but I think sending a good team matters.

    However, there’s a huge risk in allowing NBA players to compete in these tournaments. What if Dwayne Wade or LeBron James suffered a serious injury during the WC that forced them to miss all/part of the 2006/7 NBA season? How would their NBA team be compensated? How would the fans feels about the WC then? This is a huge problem even for the soccer World Cup.

    In soccer players are bought & sold for large cash sums, not traded between teams like in US sports. Liverpool FC were on the verge of selling their French international striker Djibril Cisse for somewhere between 8-10 million GBP when he suffered a horrendous broken leg in a warm-up match before the World Cup. They were unable to sell him & raise much needed cash for new players. England international striker Michael Owen (one of the biggest soccer stars in the world) suffered a serious injury (torn knee ligaments) & will miss the entire 2006/7 season. His club, Newcastle United paid 17.5 million GBP for him only a year ago. Will he be able to make a full recovery? What’s he worth now, & worse still, how much will it effect his club (financially, on-field performance, etc)?

    Serious injuries occur both leading up to & during major competitions, it’s only a matter of time before this happens at the Olympics or World Championships to an NBA star.

    As for the lack of interest from the fans & media for the World Championships, I wonder how it would have differed if the tournament was held in the US? Much less was expected of Team USA in the soccer World Cup but they received wide support & media coverage.

    Comment by Ashton Dorkins -

  20. Mark you are right; The NBA is making the owners give away the players that they paid millions for. Here is the formula that doesn’t add up.

    Owners (pay for) + Players (spend money)+Players (make endorsements) + NBA whores out players internationally for free = Owners are giving everyone for free – what they paid 80% of there income to obtain.

    * We watch prime time TV, Saturday is College Football day, Sunday is NFL day … where is Basketball’s day?

    **What about the fan base that doesn’t have cable?

    **What about broadcasting all NBA games in there entirity online .. the (2) teams that are playing get banner ads on top and bottom for there official nba store…

    *** can someone please explain to me, why we can’t run the same ads during the game on t.v. on the internet – ? That way the people paying for there ads to be on during the game (the national ads) get internet coverage also.

    *****Mark How about you do it and prove it on a small scale.. start a video stream of all maverick home games… I’m sure there are some political ‘old minded’, ‘backward thinking’ , ‘still wearing the 70’s shorts’ hack that will give you a hard time.

    Mark keep up the realness; – Richardbowles

    Comment by pallet jack -

  21. Everything starts the way players are treated. From team owners perspective they are ASSETS. If your asset puts himself at risk being damaged in endevour where the owner does not get reward, the owner will naturaly shun such endevour. At least Mark is honest in his perception, which is very hard to share by any fan who enjoys his countryman playing for values other than monetary renumeration. If only IOC and FIBA, those greedy bastards, would share their billions with NBA…:)))))

    Comment by Flax -

  22. Lets be honest here… Team USA will eventually do well in the international game, once we send players who are more concern with restoring our national pride, and not our self promoting tour in Asia. We will win once we stop sending players who have personal agendas in the up and coming economy of China. Let’s face it, Team USA should be renamed team nike, or whatever sponsor you want to call it. The sneaker Exec. are competing hard right now for a significant market share to continue their growth.
    Carmelo-Nike
    Lebron-nike, Coca cola,
    Wade-Converse(owned by Nike), Gatorade(Pepsi),
    Kobe(Nike)
    Shawn Marion(Nike)
    Amare Stoudemire (Nike)
    Lamar Odom (Nike)
    Paul Pierce(Nike, spalding)
    Chauncey Billups(Addidas)
    Gilbert Arenas(Addidas)

    I’m sure i’m leaving out a lot of sponsors, but you get my point. I’m sure as an owner of your very own team, and the risk of losing your asset to an international game is not worth it for you. But you have to understand the players are being pressured by their agents, corporate sponsors, etc. to go out and represent them.

    Comment by Teddy Tran -

  23. I concede your point that international basketball, specifically the Olympics, is a lucrative business that the NBA is not profiting from enough to justify its risk. However, it is the NBAs own fault for not capitalizing on the opportunities allowed by international competition. The NBA and the Olympics/WCOB should have a mutually beneficial relationship where each promotes the other. Instead, the NBA ignores business opportunities offered by international basketball, making it seem like your high-priced athletes are being kidnapped for the summer.

    Case in point, the NBA.com homepage at this very moment touts the Spanish teams WBOC championship celebration as its top story. But if I go to the NBA.com store, there is not a single international jersey to be found, save for those worn by Team USA. If I want my Gasol, Nowitzki, Peja, or Tony Parker jersey, I have to hope that a different online retailer, such as FIBA.com or eurojerseyimports.com carries my favorite player in their limited inventory. If the NBA embraced the fact that its players are representing the NBA while playing for their home countries, then both businesses could thrive. In terms of jerseys, I know that there are licensing restrictions, but the NBA certainly has enough pull to say, If you want to use our players, then allow us to sell your jerseys. I, for one, was dying to find a Boris Diaw French team authentic jersey and would have expected to pay $150-200 for one, but could not find one offered by ANY online retailer, much less the NBA store.

    This mentality extends beyond jerseys, too. The NBA could make money by brokering the rights to broadcast some of its stars in international competition through NBATV. There might not be enough viewership to profit from advertising initially. But by broadcasting the WBOC, NBATV would be promoting international competition, causing popularity and viewership to grow. In good time, Charles Barkley would be barking about Darkos Serbian block party on TNT.

    One last point: I am an American and I am proud of Team USA, win or lose. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if we participated in global competition and did not send our best team to represent our country. It is okay to not be the best. In fact, it is probably good for our American ego to not be the best.

    And, Im not a betting man, but if I were, Id bet that we can make money even though were not the best!

    Comment by BLusk -

  24. Good Analysis

    Comment by Jason S -

  25. I agree with you Mark. Nobody shives a git about the Olympics anymore, except for Women’s Beach Volleyball, which I highly recommend. For the USA, they were popular in a time before 100 channels of cable TV. Now, they might win a ratings war in a nursing home over Wheel/Jeopardy on a good night.

    I don’t understand why great players like Dwayne Wade want to be part of international competition in the summer anyway. You’d think they’d need the time to let their bodies recover or bulk up a little or have a surgery they need or do a basketball camp for the community. Or like Mark Madson, take up running 5Ks.

    Finally, the original Dream Team was worth watching. It was exciting. Magic and Charles and the rest played with great passion. But as Jim Rome is fond of saying, the first donut was great, but every subsequent donut you eat trying to match the first donut high just gives you a stomach ache.

    Comment by Brad Hutchings -

  26. There is a simple (well probably not legally, but in theory)way to both expand foreign interest in the NBA and to see how well the rest of the world actually measures up: let the top foreign club team every year join the NBA for a season. That would be the fairest way to gauge how the foreign talent stacks up. It would also exponentially increase interest in basketball in whatever country the club represented.

    My guess: the foreign teams wouldn’t even make the playoffs.

    Comment by mark -

  27. Back when the US dominated basketball all you could see was American fans with their index finger up saying, “America is number 1.” Now that we are getting our asses kicked all over, we should have our own American league, play only in the USA and make money. I dont think you would share that opinion if you were winning.

    The USA was poorly coached. Trust me, I love Duke, but coach K aint God and he is also vulnarable to make mistake. He’s got the right. Wade on the bench, unchageble defense? Plus, James cant play as a teammate, no matter how much he actually wants to do it, and he tried. How do you go from keeping the ball throughout the entire in Cleaveland, and then change it to a passing game? It is not his fault, it is just not a fit. Coach K, Please…
    Lastly, Mark, be careful when you try to generate public opion surveys in your blog. You have a lot of people, like myself, who respect you to a level that we may lose perspective. But not this time.

    Comment by Marcos Santos -

  28. sound to me like you are trying to rationalize the NBA failures. I was really hoping that you would stand behind your constant harping about the way the game is called in the NBA. Our players are conditioned that when times get tough, put your head down and charge at the basket in the hope of a foul call. Only “superstars” need apply.

    Instead we get some crap about nobody cares, and AP wire stories. I would bet that a Cowboys pre season game would get more viewers than a Mavs final. I agree that August is a good time to suck, ask Tom Hicks. You sound like the kid who loses and then says i was not trying. Your “product” is based upon the preception as the best basketball league in the world. Learn nothing and continue to call the Heat the “world champion”. I will call the Heat “the team the referees gave the series to because they hate Mark Cuban”

    Comment by Chris Price -

  29. I agree, been a while since I said that.

    Speaking of basketball leagues, how come the NBA hasn’t solved it’s most obvious problem; Development leagues.

    Surely it makes business sense for each NBA team to run a development team during the offseason (the whole offseason, not just a couple of weeks for a summer league) of potential NBA players.

    It’s a win for everyone; You don’t have to pay the players much, you’ve got empty arenas doing nothing and you have virtually no competition (when T.O’s bicycle outfit is a 6 hour discussion on ESPN, I think it’s safe to say that).

    And more importantly, you can actually focus on global expansion. David Stern always talks about it, but in truth its very small, no team wants to lose a whole games worth of revenue and leave it’s fans.

    So you tour the summer development team; a few games in various foreign countries, some in the surrounding cities of the NBA team (hopefully bring them into the game experience and maybe they’ll come into the city for an NBA game) and some games at your home arena to sweeten up all those season ticket owners at renewal time.

    This would work alot better for the NFL since they have far less games. Anything so I don’t have to deal with T.O’s Tour de France & Ben’s appendix as the talking topics on ESPN.

    Comment by Adam Cains -

  30. Mark – From the outside, it appears that giving up NBA rights during international competition is an age-old ploy by Stern. It’s the premise of, I’ll give you “the product” for free – now. As soon as you’re really hooked on the product, you’re gonna pay. And pay twice as much as you thought you would (now, as the ultimate insider, you may have information to dispute the aforementioned statements).

    Onto the remainder of your post. A question: since basketball is a U.S.-spawned game, why doesn’t the rest of the world conform to NBA rules? We don’t alter the rules of football (the original football) and demand that the rest of the world do so during the World Cup. Point is, international ball should be played by OUR rules.

    You’re absolutely right about – players care about NBA rings, not international ball trophies. However, the players who made and make the 3-year commitment NEED to care – for generating more international dollars on their names, if nothing else.

    As far as care for international hoops by the general viewership (including casual NBA viewership), the buzz for the recent event was totally generated by the talk-radio of the TV airwaves – ESPN. Only ESPN/ABC/Disney had a monetary interest in this competition – and they played it up in the hopes that we would be made to care. How did they do that? By taking their normal unrealistic look at the team, the head coach and his ability to coach, and the infrastructure that put the team together.

    Blame for the team’s inadequacies fell almost entirely on the players, while Colangelo and crew were lauded for their efforts; while coach K went unscathed.

    For the U.S. to compete with Euro-ballers on their turf, we need to adapt more of a Euro-ball mentality.

    The U.S. needs to run a variation of the Princeton-motion offense. We need to find a coach who places a premium on defense; a coach who places a premium on fundamentals; a coach who can relate to, and command the respect of the players through familiarity with their upbringings and understanding of the game; a coach who can instill an “us against the world” mentality and have it not at all sound contrived.

    That coach? John Thompson III.

    After all, he took a less-talented Georgetown team and beat Duke last season. He runs a variation of the Princeton-motion offense – and offense that demands adherence to fundamental ball, allows anyone to be be a leading scorer in a given game depending on what the defense offers, and promotes team sharing as an ACT, not as an etheral, intangible philosophy.

    JT III, because he adheres to the example set by his father, brings young black men into an elitist, nearly all-white collegiate environment. He then demands excellence of them – on and off the court. The players band together like brothers, forming their own fraternity, which is a continuance of the fraternity set forth by his father, These players, once at Georgetown, are connected to every player who has taken the floor to play for the Hoyas, and are treated as brothers by past players from Pat Ewing to Othella Harrington, to Michael Jackson, to Reggie Williams.

    JT III also instills an understanding of what it means to be a black student/athlete in a world dominated monetarily by whites; it’s an understanding black NBA players need to have to survive on and off the court. It’s the understanding that your actions will be much more scrutinized by the outside world, and that each time you take the floor, or each time you venture into the public arena, you are watched – closely. In other words, play and live every moment with ultimate effort and awareness.

    Coach K can NEVER give this message to black NBA players.

    Finally, if Kobe had been on this team, they would have won the gold medal. Kobe abhores losing like MJ did – in practice or in live games. That attitude was sorely lacking with the present U.S. team. LeBron, ‘Melo, and D-Wade are PEERS. Not one of them can demand excellence of each other – or anyone else on the U.S. team. Add Chauncey Billups – another notoriously intense player in practice as well as in live competition – to the mix, and the U.S. wins every game by 15 or more… and everybody’s happy.

    Comment by David W. -

  31. the WCs & Olympics are of no interest to me. international competition is hardly competitive when teams are made up of countries of different population sizes and resources. Is it really fair for USA to play Puerto Rico when the population ratio is about 65 to 1? Now if teams got “weighted” points based on their population (ie, Team Puerto Rico would get 65 points for a bucket while USA would get 1), then it would be fair! Until then, the WCs and Olympics are hogwash… and, I believe they help seed the nationalism & pride that slows down the process of world peace, instead of helping it. There, I said it.

    Comment by greg -

  32. Maybe becasue Basketall is about teamwork, and the NBA way is always the selfish show off stuff.

    And when you meet someone (like Europeans) that play as a team with good defense, you loose. You always will.

    And when you lose, you make this sort of stuff (this blog post), well “screw it, we don’t need International Basketball, we got the NBA”.

    And no matter how many millions your players earn, how many commercials they’re in, how famous they are, they’ll still lose.

    Because it’s a team sport.

    Comment by Armin -

  33. You bring up some interesting points Mark and I agree that if the U.S. really gave a damn about international competition we would change the rules. I see what you are saying about protecting the NBA’s product. But I think you are falling prey to internal thinking when you say that Americans care more about the NBA than sport for the love of competition. I gotta call you on point #3. How the U.S. performs matters. We don’t pay attention because the national sports media keeps us fixed on stats, fantasy football, and the NFL ad nauseum. There are no stories. There are no stories told about your beloved NBA. Why should I give a shit about your team? The NBA on the whole is filled with personalities not teams. I like your team a lot, but I don’t hear many stories about how they come together, why they play, and what I hear from you is what motivates them is the almighty dollar. It’s great to pay people what they are worth so that all they concentrate on is ball. But people work, and put their money down, for something else, Mark. You know that because you have passion for the game. You put your money down because you want your team to win, and you come to care about your team because you know their stories. Where were the stories about the national team? What about the other teams?

    Personally I think the NBA is falling down on the frigging job by not participating even more in the qualifying games. Yeah, maybe they are giving away their product. Fine, get some back. Sell the shit out of that thing. Market tshirts, websites, pump the shit out of it. Dirk is playing for Germany – tell that story. Obviously it mattered enough to him to go do it. That’s got to be a personal thing. So sell that. I think that’s cool. He gave up his down time to play for his country. Why? I want to know that story. That story is going to make me watch. And the more I watch, the more likely I am to become an NBA fan, even if I live in another country. This is a marketing opportunity for the U.S. and we blow it every single year.

    Do you remember being a kid and watching the Wide World of Sports on Saturdays? I loved that stuff. The stories. I want to know why people spend their whole lives dribbling just so they can ride on a plan all the way across the country to play ball in front of thousands of people who hate them, every night for six months. Get past the money issue, Mark. I think you are not looking at the whole picture. Then go back and watch the last three minutes of the U.S. Argentine game, which was played for glory alone. GLORY ALONE, Mark. WHY WE WATCH.

    Comment by Michelle Tackabery -

  34. Well Mark,

    Unfortunately your post goes against all of the true principles of the Olympic movement.. It was not about winning it was about participating, and having a good time while doing it. It was about having all these cultures coming together..

    It was never about making money or about showing who was the best, somewhere along the way, US athletes, fueled by thinkers like you, lost the way and the result is a bunch of doped atheletes who do not care about the sport or about setting an example..

    Me? I would never change the excitement and national pride present in the world cup, to see countries completely paralized by the mere notion of being able to win against a major soccer force is invaluable.

    Just follow the market rules, Mark, the rest of the world knows, US sports are entering in a decadence era, in the US noone really cares about the sport, you only care about the business and how to make it more efficient..

    I am just glad that Pierre de Coubertin did not have to cope with the corporate thinking of the American team owner.. Let’s just play for fun, there does not have to be money behind everything!

    Comment by Andy -

  35. The NBA is a joke. The season is way too long, contracts are for way too much money, the NBA playoffs is about MONEY – why else would you extend round one to 7 games? The refs are a joke and Stern is a joke.

    No, Americans don’t care about International competition as much anymore as a whole – not JUST the NBA. The Winter and Summer Olympics come and go – nobody really cared the last few years. Ratings were down.

    Of course it’s all about money, everything is motivated by money.
    So what, the Olympics make money..what is your point? The NBA owners and players are making way too much money. WAY too much….the season is way too long, but you dont care b/c you make more money.

    Who said the Dream Team ignited basketball around the world?? Sounds like this is all about your piece of the NBA pie.

    The truth is, these other countries are playing better basketball and a team game which the NBA has lost sight of. There is an influx of foreign players b/c they are playing better basketball and learning the game with fundamental development.

    Comment by Brandon -

  36. I think Mark is right.

    Comment by Horward -

  37. Mark,
    usually I like your postings very much, but I _strongly_ disagree with you in this post.

    I am from Germany and I am a huge NBA fan and – needless to say – I am a huge fan of Dirk. First of all I like Dirk beeing a great basketball player, but secondly I like his great personality and his support for our national team. He is always and _everywhere_ trying to inspire people for basketball.

    If you are only thinking in terms of dollars, then see the NBA stars playing seriously at international and olympic tournaments as an investment for the NBA and the interest in basketball itself. I would appreciate that very much.

    Comment by Delo -

  38. I love the Dallas mavericks and if that was the ONLY team that i loved i would agree with you.Thats why i understand what you are saying.

    But what if i liked certain players (Wade,Lebron and the stars of the NBA)more than the NBA as a whole, and their arse got kicked by a no name team.Would it increase my interest in the NBA?

    It would if the team that kicked arse gets into the NBA.or atleast a few of the players.

    By playing these games NBA players (not just american players) are being exposed to competition that they would not have.It improves their game.

    The way forward for the NBA is to get its over-priced players some competition.

    Comment by Ajoy -

  39. I’m going to disagree with Mark here. I understand what he’s saying about other people using the NBA’s “product”, but I believe he’s looking at this the wrong way. I consider NBA players participating in International competition the equivalent of advertizing for the NBA. That advertizing might not affect US citizens, but it’s extremely important Internationally. These games are important to other countries. Much more so than some regular season (or even playoff) NBA game. This is the best chance for the NBA to showcase their product to a large international audience. Hopefully that will generate more of TV viewing of NBA games and sales of NBA merchandice (and more money for you). How much do you normally PAY for advertising? I think all this advertizing comes pretty cheap by comparison.

    I also think that this “advertizing” has helped the growth of international basketball since the Dream Team. It wasnt just the Dream Team though (who gets too much credit as you say). It the repeated sending of the players and advertising the NBA product. Just look at what has happened to the growth of international baseball (MLB never let their players compete internationally). Sure MLB is making money, but internationally its the same countries that played the sport 20 or 25 years ago. It’s even getting removed from the Olympic games. After being way late and trying to host their own International Championship this year, ratings were dismal. That doesnt seem like good business to me. You have to be out there promoting your product and brand name. Thinking long term, I believe playing Internationally makes sense for the NBA.

    Comment by Jonathan -

  40. What are the chances of seeing the all star game consisting of usa nba players v the international players? The current format of east v west is far less interesting than watching greece v usa. And for what it is worth my money would be on the international nba team beating the usa nba team…

    Comment by David Hannigan -

  41. Mark,

    I agree with most of your points in this blog. Business is business, and basketball, well it isn’t what we always expect.
    We would like to think of the Olympics as being more about the sports, but it all boils down to the $$. Whether it’s my small business or your many conglomerates, the fact remains, money drives everything………

    I was however, very interested in seeing how this US Team would perform. Mainly because so many of them are the the young “superstars” of the NBA and to me, Carmello was the best thing going.
    Do you think Kobe would have made the difference?
    I lost most interest when they sent Bowen home but kept Joe Johnson. I mean come on, how many scorers do they need??? In my opinion, that was poor management. Their defense was soooo weak. I think Kobe, being an excellent defender, and Bowen would have made a big difference.
    One more thing, while Coach K is a solid coach, I think an ego filled type of team needs a Doug Moe, Jerry Sloan, Don Nelson, “in your face” type of coach.

    Give em’ Hell Mark!!
    MFFL in Tampa

    Comment by Eric -

  42. sheesh, do you like anything that doesn’t make you money, or can’t make you money? if you don’t have money invested in something, it must suck and isn’t worth anyone’s time.

    is that why you don’t like the refs in the NBA, because you don’t win the championship and can’t get all that TV and merchandise money? I mean c’mon, we all love the “he’s a real fan, like us!” crap, but you’re just in it for the money for the rest of them…

    Comment by Dave -

  43. Just a little mistake in the blog Mark. There was more than 1 6’5 player in the World Cup. Peter Crouch (England) at 6’7. Petr Cech (Czech Republic) 6’5. Jan Koller (Czech Republic) 6’6. Those are just the players I remember.

    As for the business model, you raise some good points. However, I believe your emphasis on national pride is lacking. Why do these basketball players go to the Olympics, or the World Championships? National pride. It’s also not a bad business deal for them. There is no opportunity cost lost (in a basketball sense) by attending the Games, instead of practicing in a gym, or enjoying summer. They also increase their exposure, both in the US and globally for free. They’re able to play, and try to connect, to different cultures. The NBA is huge in Asia (specifically China), and this is the NBA offices mission. Take a look at the job openings at NBA.com, you’ll see the amount of expansion the NBA is looking to accomplish in China.

    If LeBron or Wade were to step up as the leader of Team USA and led them to Gold, the media fanfare and exposure they would have received would have been huge. Creating a bigger fanbase, and more potential buyers of their products.

    Comment by Lachlan Wood -

  44. I love watching American NBA players getting beat by foreigners, hahaha. Don’t change anything. Continue to show the world what a piece of crap organization the NBA is. The grueling NBA schedule doesn’t allow for defense or game preparation. Take a clue from the 16-game NFL schedule.

    Comment by fast eddie -

  45. As published in the DMN this morning:
    Jerry West called Team USA “vulnerable” even before it lost to Greece last week. Why? “Referees don’t pay any attention to the name on the back of the uniform,” he said. Team USA still took twice as many free throws as Greece, but no one got rich there. Dwyane Wade? The man who won Miami an NBA title from the line took four attempts against Greece.

    So, is West publicly validating the “star system” that Stern and his cronies deny?

    Comment by Stove -

  46. Pau out 3 months? I’m guessing the Memphis Grizzlies will agree with you on that statement. But then what about the All-Star games? Charity games? etc..

    Comment by totoro -

  47. The hole in your argument: while we don’t care about the WC, fans do care about the Olympics.

    Another interesting question: how would you get all the other teams to participate in the “Supergames?” 95% of their players are not playing in the NBA. Splitting away from the Olympics/WC would risk splitting the tourney into two separate championships, both of which foudner. Plus, I think it would make me puke if it looked like the US was walking away from the WC/Olympics because we couldn’t win it.

    Comment by Ken -

  48. What do you all think about that NBA team that played for the world title?

    Comment by D.C. Stewart -

  49. Your post can be summarised as “I dont like international basketball because we cant really make money from it. Someone else can though. That sucks”. Its a shame Mark, that at at this point in your life you haven’t yet appreciated that not everything is about MONEY! But I suppose being a billionaire will do that to a guy.

    While the rest of the world welcomes international sports events as a chance for all nations to share and demonstrate higher human ideals through sport – a welcome break from butchering each other daily in wars all around the world – your green eye only sees it as FIBA and the IOC nicking ‘your’ horses and making money off them. I live in SOuth Africa and in 1995 I saw a fractured nation come together through winning the Rugby world cup – a genuine and warm unification that wasnt made even with peaceful democratic elections. But if it was up to you, none of the rugby clubs would ever have released ‘their’ players ‘for someone else’s financial gain’. You seem to think “I pay a player a salary, therefore I own him”. WRONG!!! You own his time while he’s actively working for you. But you dont own HIM. I think it ticks you off that Dirk shows as much passion for his National team as for the mavs; it bums you that all the money you can throw at him doesnt affect his loyalties.

    The reason the World champs aren’t big news in the US is simple: you all know you’re losing, and are going to keep losing, and you cant handle it. So you downplay it and look away. Classic sour grapes, its as simple as that.

    Also, in the US the highest pinnacle for an athlete is the major leagues. Because you devised weird sports that no-one else understood, so you were left to play with yourselves (in more ways than one). But for the rest of the world, athletes’ highest ambitions are international competition, because its the hardest game there is, and because they feel more pride representing their country than representing a city – it only makes sense: there are 10s of millions behind you when you represent your country, and only a a few million when you represent a city. This pleasure of having your whole nation behind you in team sports is something that americans dont really know, that’s why you cant understand dirk, pau et al having the times of theirs lives at these tournaments.

    Money, money, money. Tell me, do you think of your daughter only in terms of the $$ it cost you to buy her diapers and baby food? Daddy’s little tax-deductable expenditure?

    Comment by sarcosuchus -

  50. Basically I think you’re right when it comes to the Olympics and basketball coverage/promotion. Especially when you see that the sports/games broadcasted in a specific country are already geared/selected towards those sports that are already popular in that specific country. I.e. wherever basketball didn’t already have much of an audience, the Olympics are not going to broadcast much of it, reasoning the other more popular sports would pull in better ratings/more money.

    There’s a couple other huge opportunities the NBA is not exploiting/exploring regarding overseas markets right now though. While I read your ‘and lets leave it at that’, as a fan and business person living in Europe (Netherlands) just allow me to throw down some issues;

    1.TV rights to NBA basketball are right now sold to (pay-per-view) broadcast corporations who use them foolishly. This hurts the fans, the market development and the possible earnings of the NBA.

    2.Organization for the European exhibition games is badly executed. I’m actually travelling to Germany in October to see the Suns and 76ers play there, while so many opportunities throughout this region are being neglected. I don’t know exactly how this Europe tour affects scheduling and all, but there’s a lot of terrain to win here.

    If I can help, let me know.

    Comment by Mich -

  51. Mark, couldn’t agree more…Stern and his stooges appear on the one hand to grasp marketing and money (or at least the press likes to tell them so), but giving away the NBA’s assets and trademarks in these silly games (WC and Olymipics) where we are forced to play by other rules, not to mention the never ending subsidy of the WNBA that no basketball fan cares about, appears to tell a different story…there is just no upside for us and when we lose, it dilutes the NBA mark (no matter how much it is too much)…I love your idea of the SuperGames…

    Comment by tviper -

  52. I think you’re on to some real things here. But I hated the Dream Team and the final collapse of any amateur pretensions in the Olympics. I hate watching American players bully foreign players but, more generally, why would I watch the Olympics when the best players are in the NBA?

    It’s not like the World Cup where the good players come from all over the world in sufficient numbers to field serious National teams.

    The Olympics are a joke at this point and I think you’re right that the whole deal needs to be looked at and basketball is a good place to start.

    Comment by Clyde Smith -

  53. Hare brained schemed. will most likely fail. I know you’d probably like me to explain why it won’t work, but i’m not going to bother. In fact I hope you try this out; see what a miserable failure it is ; lose money and learn some hard lessons because you really deserve it if you go ahead with this retarded idea.

    Comment by Mike Wakabayashi -

Comments are closed.