Column: LeBron James’ Olympic basketball team won’t be a dream

LeBron James reportedly said Interested in participating in the 2024 Olympics. He is also said to be recruiting other NBA superstars to join him in the Paris Olympics, including Stephen Curry, who has yet to win an Olympic gold medal.

Pointillism portrait illustration by LZ Granderson

opinion columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about American culture, politics, sports, and life.

Considering that James will be 39 and Curry will be 36 when the torch is lit, this will likely be the only Olympics these two icons will compete in together. Combined with the ages of some of the other players James is said to be recruiting, this feels like a farewell to an era.

I hope this is the end of the Dream Team format at the Olympics.

The 1992 Olympic team took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird became teammates, something no one could have imagined early in their careers. Times have changed: James and Curry potentially becoming teammates was a frequent topic of discussion during the offseason. For the most part, the excitement surrounding the idea of ​​a dream team has faded.

Not that there was widespread excitement at the outset.

After the international governing body changed its rules in 1989 to allow professionals to compete in the Olympics, The Associated Press established Nearly 40% of NBA players disapprove of this change, and more than 40% do not want to participate in the Olympics.

Surprisingly, neither Michael Jordan nor Isiah Thomas – whose rivalry went on to define much of the story of the 1992 Dream Team – initially wanted to play. Thomas even warned that the inclusion of professional basketball players would poison the Olympics by bringing a win-at-all-costs mentality (he was ultimately not invited to the team). Amateur Basketball Association of America. League commissioner Dave Gavitt, who also voted against the plan, said: “I’m not sure the NBA would have voted for it if there had been a vote.”

In hindsight, Thomas, Gavitt and other skeptics were right.

Once a highly sought-after honor for college students, it has now become the choice of accomplished professionals. Sometimes we field our best players, like the 2008 Redemption Team led by Kobe Bryant. Sometimes elite players like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Curry choose to rest and not play, as was the case in 2016.

America’s greatness does not depend on this decision. The varsity players who won the bronze medal in 1988 outscored their opponents by an average of 30 points per game. The Dream Team was created because our young men lost a game by six points – it wasn’t a “sky is falling” situation at all. Only one loss was to the Soviet Union, who controversially handed us our first loss in basketball in 1972.

In 1980 we boycotted the Moscow Olympics because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The Kremlin responded by boycotting Los Angeles in 1984.

In 1988, we lost the head-to-head match. In 1989, NBA players were allowed to participate in games. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and in 1992, the Dream Team defeated the world, but not the country that started the chaos, because it no longer existed.

Just like I would like to see an American Dream Team made up of NBA players representing us on the world stage.

The best college students are locked out, while the top NBA players show up when they want to. What’s so sexy about this?

I’m not saying James and his team shouldn’t be playing in 2024. I mean give these international tournaments back to the kids when they’re over. Don’t romanticize amateurism in the Olympics, because it hasn’t existed for a long time. Before the NBA, professional tennis players competed in the Olympics. In fact, Brad Gilbert, who recently helped Coco Gauff win the U.S. Open, won the bronze medal in 1988. I just think USA Basketball would be better off ripping the band-aid off and sticking with the guys who need to play.

Isiah Thomas was left off the 1992 Dream Team and we’re still talking about it. I miss that energy.

By returning it entirely to the athlete who needs it rather than wants it, there’s a chance it can be found again. Why not give college players a chance to make Olympic teams and earn money on their way to stardom? Professional players are not guaranteed, so this windfall may be some players’ only chance to get rich.

If we know we’re no longer sending our best players against the world, can we at least go back and send our hungriest?


Watch the Los Angeles Times today on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 at 7 p.m. or watch live on the Spectrum News App. Viewers in Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County can watch on Channel 99 on Cox Systems.

Source link

Leave a Comment