Monday, June 20, 2016

We should send an NBA franchise to the Olympics as Team USA Basketball

Team USA members have been dropping out of the Olympics left and right, with LeBron James the latest to potentially bail on going to Rio.  Maybe it's time to put the Dream Team concept to bed?  NBA superstars just don't care that much about the Olympics, especially the ones who've been there before.

My suggestion?  Send one NBA squad as Team USA.

Yes, I know there are a lot of obstacles--NBA clubs have foreign players, some guys are free agents or are potentially traded in the summertime, and who knows if everybody on a roster would be eager and willing to go (there are tons of other issues I haven't mentioned too).  But, those are all good things because it would decrease the number of franchises interested in becoming Team USA.

Here's how I see it going down:

Many big-time organizations likely wouldn't even care about it (the Celtics, Lakers and Warriors come to mind).  Interested teams could get their applications in to USA Basketball (which would have to work closely with the NBA on this) around the end of the regular season.  They'd have to present their case for why they'd be a good fit, and show that they could provide 12 available American bodies (with D-Leaguers and summer-league contracts included, as well as draft picks from that June).

Hypothetically, let's say the Indiana Pacers were the choice.  They have a star in Paul George, and a reasonably full roster of players born in the United States.  The Pacers have never won a title since joining the league in 1976, and they likely don't have any serious championship aspirations for next season.  Indiana might be willing to thrown their regular offseason routine out the window and potentially jeopardize their 2016-17 NBA campaign for all the benefits and exposure of the Olympics.

Imagine what being known as Team USA on a global stage could do for the marketing/branding of one of the less significant NBA clubs?  I'd guess the idea of a combo USA/their-team-name jersey alone would be enough for several franchises to jump at the opportunity, and that's just the beginning of so many possibilities...

As far as success goes, I'd argue an NBA club that's already a cohesive unit (with its regular coach) might do just as well as a hastily put together group of mismatched All Stars--and even if it didn't, the excitement and entertainment value of finding out would absolutely be worth giving it a try.

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