The 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team will be missing some superstars when the games start in early August. Players such as LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul have all withdrawn their names from consideration. The reasons vary. Some could be nervous about the Zika Virus. Others may just want to enjoy the time off. But what should be important to all NBA fans is the following: we should want our top players to rest over the summer.
As exciting as it is to watch the U.S. basketball team compete against other countries, it’s not what’s best for business. It’s not what’s best for the league. Playing competitive basketball for basically a year straight doesn’t allow players to rest and recover and could cost them during the season and beyond. That has the potential to harm the product of the NBA. If top stars aren’t healthy, the value of the game goes down.
Another example, and maybe an obvious one, is the injury risk. Indiana Pacers forward Paul George had a freak leg injury during the Olympics in 2012 that cost him most of the following regular season. As infrequently as an injury like that might be, tell that to Pacers fans who watched their season go down the drain. Tell that to NBA fans nationwide who love watching George.
So this year, the U.S. team will be headlined by Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Not exactly scrubs. The rest of the roster has several all stars and some of the league’s top young talent. In fact, the U.S. team would likely win the gold medal with half of this roster.
So NBA fans: please don’t get upset when you see some of your favorite players sitting this one out. You’ll be happy later in the year when you see all of your favorite players healthy and on the court.