The Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games in London are under way, and the men’s basketball tournament begins Sunday with an intriguing matchup between Team USA and France.
From Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s standpoint, he can watch the entire thing with his mind at ease. The NBA announced that a record 39 of its players are on the rosters of the 12 national teams that will compete for gold over the next two weeks.
Not one is on the Mavs’ recently completed 15-man roster.
Cuban is an outspoken critic of NBA player participation in the Olympics. For one, he believes the NBA and its teams should somehow be compensated for volunteering their players. Second, he cringes at a player getting injured on the Olympic stage and jeopardizing his availability on the NBA stage when Cuban’s the one paying the bills.
Dirk Nowitzki, who will accept more than $20 million of Cuban’s money just next season, hoped to lead a young German team back to the Olympics after his magnificent 2008 experience in Beijing. Cuban probably wasn’t terribly upset when Germany failed to qualify last summer.
Of course, Nowitzki would later partially blame his early season knee problem on playing in last summer’s European championship following the long run to the NBA title.
Rodrigue Beaubois fractured his left foot in the summer of 2010 preparing to play in the World Championships for France, and he still isn’t the same player from his impressive rookie season. After a prolonged recovery period, Cuban made it clear to his developing guard that international ball was no longer in the stars. Beaubois is working out in Dallas instead of playing with Parker in London.
The San Antonio Spurs, who have seen Manu Ginobili sidelined by injuries sustained in international competition, will hold their collective breath with six players in the Olympics. Argentina’s Ginobili is joined by France’s Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo, Brazil’s Tiago Splitter and Australia’s Patty Mills. Those six are due a combined $37.5 million next season.
The Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder have their entire 23-and-under core in London. Team USA’s Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, plus Spain’s Serge Ibaka will earn a combined $38.4 million next season.
If you hoped to have a rooting interest in an individual player with ties to your hometown Mavs, well, there’s always Tyson Chandler.
And Yi Jianlian is playing for China.