By Andrew Canales
How much does a dream cost?
It’s a question the Olympics committee will have to answer sooner than later as it looks into the comments made by Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen regarding a pay-for-play plan for the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Since the moment Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Co. graced the court together for the 1992 Olympic games as the Dream Team, the popularity of the national team has been a constant source of viewership boosts.
Stars, such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are some of the biggest names in all the games.
They sell the jerseys, they draw the crowds and they remain the marketing cash cows.
They also remain unpaid.
There is no arguing against the immense honor that is putting on the nation’s colors in the Olympic games.
That in itself has long been considered enough of a compensation to avoid actually playing these players.
But Wade and Allen are right. The time for change has come.
It would be too easy for the NBA’s biggest stars to decline the Olympic invitation in favor of having a full offseason of rest.
Mind you, James, Wade and Durant will likely play up until late June in the NBA Finals before practicing with the Olympic team.
After the games end in mid-August, they will return to the States and prepare to begin training for the 2012-13 NBA season.
That’s more than a full year of basketball without a real break.
Now before you whip out your imaginary violin for these millionaires, take into account the fact that these players provide healthy livings for Olympic committee members and see nothing in return.
Before the Dream Team, the U.S. Olympic team was made up of the top college basketball players.
While a team full of Kentucky Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks could probably still find a fair amount of success, they don’t provide nearly the same marketability as the NBA stars.
Bottom line: the Olympics need the NBA stars more than the NBA stars need the Olympics.
It’s time they get treated that way.
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