By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The devastating injury of Paul George reignited the fire in a debate which, practically, never ended. NBA owners are more than reluctant to let their stars play for their countries’ national teams despite the agreement between FIBA and the NBA which even includes every possible detail about their practices.
According to Eurohoops sources, the current agreement, ratified back at 2010, is very specific and strict. NBA players are not allowed to train more than five weeks prior to the FIBA tournaments with their national teams, they are not allowed to deviate from “safe training practices”, like running on uneven terrain at mountains and they can’t have a full contact practice for more than two hours per day. Of course the national teams’ medical stuffs are obliged to send detailed medical reports to NBA teams for their players who can’t play for their country if there are medical concerns. That’s how Manu Ginobili is not able to participate in the upcoming FIBA World Cup and one may assume that the deviation from “safe training practices” was the reason behind the absence of Jusuf Nurkic from the Bosnian national team.
Still the debate is open again with Marc Cuban being the most vocal critic of the current status. According to ESPN, Cuban wants from the “players and owners to create their own World Cup” and compares the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the fictional crime boss Tony Soprano. However this is the idea behind the relaunch of “Mundobasket” as the “FIBA World Cup” and the possibility of turning the Olympic tournament to an under 22 competition, like FIFA, the governing body of international football, does. This plan has met the denial of the players themselves who want to compete in the Olympics no matter their age, but under the new conditions created by George’s injury, things may have changed. After all, with FIBA’s request for an expanded Olympic basketball tournament constantly denied by the IOC, the World Cup is created in order to be in the future the main international basketball event.
However the devil is in the details. Under the new FIBA calendar, there are good news, like Eurobaskets being held every four years, and bad news, like qualifying games for every tournament during the season. Both the NBA and Euroleague are not willing to have breaks during their seasons for national teams’ games. Specially for the NBA teams, the idea of sending their international players to their countries during the season, equals to a nightmare. Even with the current calendar, the burden that non American NBA stars have to bear for their national teams is a major issue for their teams, as Yahoo!Sports points out.
Paul George’s injury may indeed prove to be the spark that will change the way clubs approach their players’ presence in their national teams. And that’s an issue not only in the NBA. The owners of Greek powerhouse Olympiacos stated during the finals of the Greek league that they would let their players compete with the Greek national team, because they were not fully insured. That, of course, has also to do with Olympiacos‘ open accusation towards the federation of working in favor of the bitter rivals, Panathinaikos. Still non NBA players under the current FIBA insurance policy are covered only for the next season of their contract in case of an injury up to a total of 3 m. euros for the whole team and not for their full deals with their clubs in case of a career ending injury, as the Reds repeated on the 1st of August with a new press release. That been said, Olympiacos despite the threat, hasn’t pulled out its three players (Printezis, Mantzaris, Sloukas) from the Greek national team, while both teams’ captain Vasilis Spanoulis will miss the FIBA World Cup in order to rest his battered knees.