By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
NBA Deputy Comissioner Mark Tatum talked about the several discussions that he and FIBA Secretaty General Andreas Zagklis have had for months in order to design a formula that can allow international NBA players to be with their national teams in the 2021 Olympic Games and the Qualifiers.
“Andreas [Zagklis] and I have had weekly conversations for the last eight or nine months since the [coronavirus] pandemic,” Tatum said in a conference call. “We’ve been in very close touch with each other. We’ve talked with IOC (International Olympic Committee) as well. Andreas represents the basketball federation and we’ve had weekly calls with him and his team to come up with a solution to have our international players participate in the Olympics. Our season ends before the Olympics and FIBA actually pushed back the Qualifying tournament with the cooperation of the IOC because of the coordination with us in terms of thinking about our schedule and giving us more opportunity to make more players available to participate with their national teams in those Olympic Qualifying tournaments.”
While Zagklis recently said that he’s confident that we’ll see the “vast majority, if not all” NBA players in the Olympic Qualifiers, as of now there isn’t any known plan that will make such a thing possible.
The NBA playoffs begin in May 22 according to the league’s current tentative calendar while the qualifying tournaments will start on June 29 in various countries. These clashing schedules will be inevitably prohibiting some players, including high-profile stars, to join the fight of their national teams for a spot in Tokyo.
Among the most notable names that are most likely to be busy with the playoffs while the Qualifiers are held, are reigning back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, All-Stars Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis plus Jamal Murray.
The final list of absentees will ultimately be determined by which teams will make the postseason.
“Our regular season will end in May. By definition, for nearly half of our teams their season will be over by May,” Tatum said. “Their players will be able to participate in the Qualifiers with their national teams. Now, there will be some players – unfortunately – who are going to be playing with their NBA teams during the Olympic Qualifying tournament.”
“This an unusual and extraordinary year and we’ve worked very- very closely together with FIBA and with the IOC to put together a schedule that will be the best possible schedule for everybody involved,” Tatum added.