Monday, 21 November 2011



It's a lockout. So, just when we thought the NBA season would finally begin, now it looks even more likely that there will be no NBA season this year at all. So what does this really mean apart from fewer games, less hope, more waiting, more players flocking overseas and more of the NBA being 'where nothing happens'?

This means Team USA won't be winning the Gold Medal in the 2012 Olympics.

Yep, London's calling and everyone but the NBA seem to be listening. If the National Basketball Association of America doesn't heed the call of the regular season soon, then first place, silver or bronze in next year's Olympic Games in London will look less likely the more the Twitter hash-tag "#noNBA" becomes a certainty.

The NBA has already shot itself in the sneaker by not having another game in England's capital this year, and just to think over this last year they've had two regular season games and a Los Angeles Lakers exhibition. Even with the forthcoming games, there's nothing quite like the NBA.
Another competitive exhibition would have been the perfect precursor to the Olympic games, increasing ticket sales and league passes. I thought it was about good business? I guess there really is nothing quite like the NBA.

We already know this lockout means more than three percent of BRI and the players and the owners. Fans and people's jobs are at stake, and basketball-wise this really does mean more than the NBA too. This lockout will undoubtedly effect how the American players play in next year's Olympics.

Put it this way: if there's no season, then players' form and continuity will be seriously effected. Sure, the time off will help these guys rest up better, but extended fishing trips never did the LA Clippers any good, plus pile on the extra stress of wondering when there next runs going to come from and how many of these players will be "in the game" come summer 2012?

This isn't EA sports; even the legends can't play like a video game all the time. They can't be switched on and off. Players need regular practice, in-game practice with and against the guys they'll be playing with and against. Sure, these days top players have so many other things going on that they will remain in shape and ready to go. It's not like Team USA are going to have a bunch of Shawn Kemps show up for camp, but maybe they'll have a few Antoine Walkers.

Even if the NBA season does play out, there's going to be a Stern-guaranteed 82 games and playoffs that could result in players becoming worn out, run down and too tired to light a flame in the Olympics. What happens if the Olympics start a day or two after the last game of the NBA Finals? Jet-lag, that's what. This delayed season needs to be cleared for take off before everything becomes canceled across the board.

OK, training abroad has its Olympic perks too. Now FIBA has cleared NBA players to make that lost money overseas, more playing time will help keep things fresh. Still, there's no place like home. Even if the American players can gain more of an insight into how other international teams and players play for their own national sides scouting report there are still problems. The increasing talented pool of foreign NBA players will flock overseas to play too, most going home.

Take Pau and Marc Gasol, for example. The Gasol brothers are fast becoming the most talented family unit in worldwide sports. Laker fans can only dream of what it would be like if these two Gasols gassed up their team instead of being traded for each other, but now they could actually see what it would be like.

If Spain's two favourite sons return to Barcelona to play together this season, then you'll have them joining forces and aligning with potential national side teammates and playing against even more in what you could basically call a season-long practice. Add a returning Ricky Rubio to the mix (he sure picked his time to finally come to Minnesota) and it'll all be over. Spain may as well move the World Cup aside and leave some room in their trophy cabinet.

It's no secret from Europe to Asia and even Australia that international basketball competition has been and continues to get better. Now, with this lockout, the more fellow countrymen play together the more cohesive they get, with the added bonus of being able to get more hands-on experience playing top American players. The stronger the continuity amongst fellow countrymen overseas, the weaker it will be for America and their chances, unless the league rolls the dice one more time.

That's why it's vital for American basketball to get back on track and on court before track and field becomes the only ground for medals in the Olympics. We've seen America drop the baton before; we can't see the NBA drop the ball on this one. Everyone expects gold. That's everyone in the U.S., that is.

If the NBA continues to be locked out, America may have to except something else, and they won't be able to use a game-clock, nightmare dream team or asterisk on this one. Team USA can still win and win big, but the flame might be fading as the NBA fans its games away from the supporters and players. Now who's going to carry the torch?

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