The NBA, Team USA, & the FIBA World Cup

Although it is a young sport, basketball has quickly become an international pastime. The NBA may get most of the attention, but the Euroleague and national competitions like the ACB League are not far behind. Today, welcome offers from sportsbooks cover leagues around the world, and even basketball stores can be ordered online from almost anywhere.

Despite the global presence of the sport, basketball does not have a unified organization. The NBA controls the sport in North America, while the EuroLeague dominates Europe. Meanwhile, FIBA ​​and the Olympics feature the only unified global competitions, and NBA players are notably absent from rosters.

The Olympics often present difficult scheduling issues, but the FIBA ​​World Cup should (theoretically) be more inclusive of NBA stars. Regardless, there is still no solid lineup for Team USA…and the FIBA ​​World Cup has been going on since 1950. The first tournament to feature NBA players was the FIBA ​​World Championship. of 1994 in Canada.

So what are the deeper issues underlying the international competition of the NBA and FIBA?

Priorities in the NBA

There are some basic reasons why NBA players have shown little interest in the FIBA ​​World Cup. First, the NBA is not dependent on FIBA ​​for visibility, profits, or infrastructure. Although FIBA ​​claims to be the world governing body for basketball, it has no influence over the NBA, which is backed by more than 1,000 participating NCAA schools that compete in college basketball.

Second, there are serious scheduling issues for NBA players who want to play for Team USA in the Olympics or FIBA. Previously, Team USA required NBA players to sign multi-year contracts to commit to the Olympics. Y FIBA World Cup as a package.

With additional travel, practice and international appearances, it was an easy no-go for most players. For context, FIBA ​​qualifiers and the Olympics often take place in the middle of the season, which is one of the few times a year that NBA stars have to wind down and start over.

Lastly, NBA players are the highest paid basketball stars in the world; appearances in FIBA ​​competitions are considered exhibitions. They don’t want to risk injury or any other risk in their regular season. For example, one of the top NBA stars, Paul George, suffered a leg injury during a practice round with Team USA in 2014. He sat out the rest of the season.

Team USA languishes abroad

There is an important warning for the future of FIBA: more and more players are coming to the US to play in the NBA from abroad. In 2020-21, there were 207 players on NBA rosters from outside the US and Canada. The NBA MVPs now come from all over the world: Giannis Antetokounmpo comes from Greece, Nikola Jokic from Serbia, Luka Doncic from Slovenia.

This is destined to change the future of the FIBA ​​World Cup. As other countries build more competitive teams, Team USA (and Team Canada) may fill up with more NBA players eager to prove their country is still on top.

Additionally, USA plans to make changes to its Team USA policy. By decreasing the commitment of NBA players and separating participation in the Olympics from the FIBA ​​World Cup, more players could choose to join the roster.

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

A No-Go for 2023 and 2024

The FIBA ​​World Cup is currently structured as an Olympic Games qualifier… and while Grant Hill, president of USA Basketball, is eager to change the current contractual obligations for NBA players, he has not yet There has been a policy change.

Currently, the next FIBA ​​World Cup will take place in the summer of 2023, directly followed by the 2024 Olympics. As things stand now, the NBA stars will agree to a multi-year commitment to the NBA team. USA free summers with international travel and competition,

In other words, it’s an easy pass for the vast majority of NBA players. And also keep in mind that an NBA player’s summer off is also a hectic period of free agency for many. Not only are they resting at home, they are also working with their agents to sign new deals for years to come.

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