MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Kobe Bryant, the face of the US men’s team favored to retain its gold medal, has slammed the NBA for considering an age limit that would prevent many of the world’s top basketball players taking part in future Olympics.
National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner David Stern has spoken about the possibility of limiting participation in the Olympic basketball tournament to players aged 23 and under following the July 27-Aug. 12 London Games.
“It’s a stupid idea, stupid,’’ Bryant, 33, told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Team USA’s Olympic friendly against Britain on Thursday. “It should be a (player’s) choice.
NBA team owners are understood to be concerned about the greater potential for injuries and fatigue suffered by the top players while they represent their national teams during the league’s off season.
But Bryant, a ﬁve-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and a member of the US team that won gold at the 2008 Olympics, feels anything but the world’s best players is not acceptable when it comes to international competition.
“The Olympics is really about putting the best athletes out there to compete against the best. That’s what it’s about, put the best out there,” said Bryant.
“From a basketball standpoint, (an age limit) would lessen the Olympics, absolutely.”
The prospect of having no NBA participation in the Olympics, just 20 years after they were first allowed into the competition at Barcelona, gained momentum after Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was hurt during a US Olympic team practice.