Wednesday , Oct , 03 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Tony Parker, Steve Nash & Other NBA Stars On Break From International Play, Why Not Hold World Championship During NBA Regular Season?

I’ll never forget Nash carrying Canada at the 2000 Olympics and having it slow him down during the following NBA season. Dallas’ owner, Mark Cuban, stepped in and essentially stopped Nash from playing international ball …

The Associated Press reports on Tony Parker taking a break on his future with the French national team:

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker will take a two-year hiatus from the French national team.

Parker said on his Web site Wednesday he needed time to rest and pledged to return to the team in time for the 2009 European championship in Poland.

"It has been many years that I am playing more than 120 games a year," Parker said. "In the end, my body is at risk."

Parker said he made the decision after meeting Tuesday with his coach and teammates.

My Quick Take: Parker’s decision reminds me of Steve Nash’s predicament with the Canadian national team. Nash, like Parker, had to take a breather from international hoops and eventually stopped suiting up for his country. He had put in a decade of service

The Frenchman and Canadian have much in common. Both are smaller point guards with slight physiques. I stood next to Nash at his charity All-Star game. He’s listed at 6-3, but is 6-0. So, as smaller players, they get beat up easily. Both play for NBA teams that consistently go deep in the post-season. And both are passionate about representing their country.

Here’s the lesson from Parker and Nash’s decision: playing for your country takes a toll on your personal life and NBA career. I’ll never forget Nash carrying Canada at the 2000 Olympics and having it slow him down during the following NBA season. Dallas‘ owner, Mark Cuban, stepped in and essentially stopped Nash from playing international ball.

Fair enough. But this is still a shame. The world’s best players should represent their countries. And fans should enjoy international competition.

So I have a proposal. There are considerations and details to be ironed out. But I’m going to throw it out there. What about FIBA and the NBA taking a break every four years and playing the World Championship during the regular season? Here are the details:

  • If healthy, the best players must represent their country at this World tournament. It would be mandatory.  And they would be selected by their country. Soccer players do it. In fact, FIFA suspends soccer stars if they miss an international game.
  • The NBA and FIBA would reduce their schedule for this tournament. For example, NBA teams would play 72 regular season games instead of 82. This would only happen every four years. And owners would make back the loss in revenue from the international tournament.
  • The NBA and Euro leagues would have the chance to really promote international play. Think about how many people watch soccer’s World Cup. Basketball leagues could really get behind their own World Cup, which would help the sport’s popularity. 
  • However, I’m not sure what happens with the Olympics.

There are complications with this idea. But international basketball isn’t as popular as it could be. After all, basketball is the world’s second biggest sport, so why not give it the world stage it deserves.

What do you think of Oly’s proposal to promote international basketball? Get at us in the comment box with your thoughts.

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