NBA propose under-23 format for Olympic basketball


The NBA wants to pull basketball's top players out of future Olympic Games and model the competition on the under-23 format used in football.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original United States 'Dream Team', the squad featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird that won gold in Barcelona in the first year NBA players took part, a team widely credited with helping spark the global popularity of the sport.

The game's biggest stars are in line to play in London this summer, but it could be the last Games in which they feature.

Plans floated by commissioner David Stern and his deputy Adam Silver at a press conference last night ahead of the draft lottery would see Olympic basketball transformed into a youth tournament because of fears over player burn-out.

Silver said: "Owners have raised repeatedly the issue of our players playing in essence year round when you add the Olympics to our newly renamed World Cup of Basketball (formerly the FIBA World Championship).

"So when you have the Olympics, the World Cup of Basketball, we are taking a very close look at whether it makes sense from an NBA standpoint and a global basketball standpoint for the top players to be playing at that level on a year-round basis, and somewhere (every) summer."

Silver said the NBA is planning talks with USA Basketball and FIBA following the London Olympics to discuss the matter.

Olympic football squads are made up of under-23 players, with a maximum of three 'overage' players in the group.