Kobe Bryant and Mark Cuban do not agree when it comes to the Olympics. As you probably know, Cuban is the most enthusiastic Olympic hater in sports. He roots for Team USA to fail because he feels that the concept of allowing players who are under contract with NBA teams to risk injury in international competition is incredibly dumb. David Stern obviously agrees with Cuban in some way, as evidenced by the fact that he is hoping to make Olympic rosters 23-and-under in the future. Kobe is strongly opposed to that idea.
“It’s a stupid idea,” Bryant told reporters in Great Britain on Tuesday. “It should be a (player’s) choice. If I’m an owner, I would want my player to play (internationally) because I understand that they’re going to be playing anyway, going to be playing pickup basketball in the summertime, and I’m not going to be able to know where they are.
“They could be playing against a bunch of bums — no, really — guys that feel like they have something to prove and all of a sudden, a (star player) goes to the rim and a guy takes them out and now he’s hurt. Here you’re playing against the best guys, you have treatment around the clock, your (NBA) coaching staff can always come sit in the stands and view practice. To me, playing on an Olympic basketball team is actually better if you’re an owner.”
Cuban’s main beef is that the Olympic Committee profits from NBA team assets, but as far as injuries are concerned Kobe makes a valid point. Guys are going to play basketball over the summer no matter where they are — they have to in order to prepare for the season. They could blow out their knee in a charity game, too.
In fact, Kobe even went as far as to say he believes the Olympics help him to better prepare for the upcoming season. He pointed to the 2008-2009 season, saying it was his “best season in the NBA statistically.” I don’t know what he’s basing that on since his numbers have been better in several other seasons, but we get the point. Kobe likes the Olympics. I’m sure plenty of other players who are over 23 do as well.