By Josh Kramer
Through the majority of the 20th century, only amateur athletes were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Then the Dream Team arrived in 1992. American superiority in basketball was demonstrated to the fullest. Eventually, European countries began to catch up. Now winning the Olympics is somewhat of a challenge for the United State every four years.
Dwyane Wade currently is making over 15.5 million dollars this season. Ray Allen is currently raking in a meager 10.5 million this year. Yesterday, both said that they feel Team USA basketball players should get paid for their services in London this summer. Is representing your country not enough? A chance to play basketball in front of thousands of Europeans fans and millions watching on television in London not enough? Is likely adding a gold medal to your collection not enough? Is being a part of Olympic history not enough? I have always been a fan of both Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. Wade’s very hard-nosed style of play since his Marquette days has always been admirable, while Ray Allen’s amazing three-point stroke dating back to his days at UConn has always been a thing of beauty. Both are way out of line here.
It should be seen as an honor to get to represent your country on a global stage. These NBA superstars are not struggling for money. Money is the last thing they should be concerned about in terms of the Olympics. That concept has been lost on Wade and Allen apparently. Now I am fully aware about the point they were trying to make. If the Heat make a deep run in the playoffs, which they likely will, guys like Wade, James, and Bosh will only get a couple of weeks of rest before the Olympics. Then if Team USA plays deep into the medal round, which they will, they will have only a month off before team camp begins. Boohoo.
I don’t hear Olympic teammates like LeBron James or Chris Bosh complaining. For NBA players, basketball is a profession. With all jobs, there are going to be tough days. Days where one wishes they didn’t have to get out of bed. This happens less for NBA players though than the average person. Playing basketball and making millions of dollars does not sound half bad to me. The average salary in the NBA this season is over 5.1 million dollars. This is more than any other professional sports league in the present. Want to know what the average American makes? Try a little bit over $26,000.
To be great, sacrifices have to be made. If Wade and Allen feel that they need a monetary incentive to go London, then replace them on the roster. There is a plethora of young talent in the NBA these days. Plenty of players are chomping at the bit to wear a Team USA jersey in London and help bring home another gold medal. And guess what, they would do it for a free with a big smile on their faces.
This is the Olympics. There will not be pay for play. Nor should there be. Go represent your country on the global stage and showcase why we have the best basketball in the world. Wade and Allen are both future Hall of Famers. Yesterday, they didn’t act like it.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.