NBA owners hate having their players play in the Olympics. That’s not an exaggeration – it's a statement of fact. Team owners absolutely despise the idea of their guys out somewhere, playing against top caliber competition, risking injury and doing it all in a way that said owners can’t make money off.
Because of how upset his bosses (owners) are at the thought of guys playing in the Olympics, NBA Commissioner David Stern proposed a new idea: what if only players who are 23 years old and younger compete? That way, these older guys (the ones who have more wear-and-tear on their bodies and are more likely to get injured) can rest up all summer while America still sends the best players around to compete.
Not according to Los Angeles Lakers superstar, Kobe Bryant.
"It's a stupid idea," Bryant told reporters recently. "It should be a (player's) choice."
No. 24 was then asked if he and his teammates had discussed the issue.
"Our discussion is this: Basically, it's just a dumb idea and we (discuss) it that way. ... We just discuss it like that (and) kind of voice our opinions through you (media) guys."
Why does Kobe feel so strongly about the matter? Well, because he has a different philosophy on the risks involved. Here is what he told the Los Angeles Times (via ESPN) recently:
“I think that's the wrong way to look at things. 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."
Bottom line: Stern’s idea is a stupid one and Kobe, as usual, wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.