Kobe Bryant against plans to pull NBA's top players from future Olympics

 

Manchester

Kobe Bryant has made a strong attack on plans by the NBA to pull basketball's top players out of future Olympic Games and model the competition on the under-23 format - declaring that it is intended only to "protect the investment" of club owners.

The five-times NBA champion, who has arrived with USA team in Manchester to prepare for a defence of the 2008 Olympic title, said of the proposal: "It's stupid, a stupid idea" and he declared that it would devalue the Olympic spirit.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original United States 'Dream Team', 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. But though the game's biggest stars are in line to play in London, plans recently floated by NBA commissioner David Stern and his deputy Adam Silver could make it the last Games in which they feature.

Before a reception at Manchester town hall to welcome the players who play the GB Olympic side in the city on Thursday, Bryant said: "There hasn't been much discussion about it. Our discussion is this: basically it is just a dumb idea and we disseminate [that view] it this way." Asked if the idea would degrade the Olympic competition, he said: "Absolutely, from a basketball perspective. The Olympics is putting the best athletes out there. I heard about this a while ago and I was thankful they haven't thought about doing that now because if they were I wouldn't be able to play now because I'm 27 years old. I personally would like it be your own decision. Playing the Olympics has been the greatest decision of my life so I like to have the option to do it."

Bryant said of club owners that the idea was designed "to protect their investments" - by preventing players from returning injured for the new season. But he insisted that players were under less risk of injury by playing in the Olympics.

"If you look at us, guys who are injured here [in the Olympic squad] get treatment around the clock," he said. "We have the best training staff, coaches who are here monitoring us. If our owners or NBA coaches want to contact us and see how we are doing, they can easily come to a practice. They can easily talk to the training staff - as opposed to guys disappearing for the summer and coming back overweight."

Those left to their own plans in the close-season would "come back overweight," Bryant said. "You don't know where you are, you are playing pick-up basketball with people anyway, you get injured, you don't have the right staff. If I was an owner I would much rather my players played on a USA Olympic team."

Outlining the NBA plans at a press conference in May, Silver said there were fears of player burn-out. "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.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect