NBA Rumor: Olympics

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In a next-level spinoff this summer, when the Canadian men’s national basketball team tries to qualify for its first Olympics since the Sydney Games in 2000, it will play on the court upon which the Toronto Raptors in 2019 became the first team based outside the United States to win an N.B.A. championship. “We want the entire court to be the lucky loonie,” said Scott Lake, a board member of Canada Basketball who was instrumental in the federation’s bid to obtain that court and host a six-team Olympic men’s qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 29 to July 4.

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It took 11 months, and nearly $270,000 from Lake, a co-founder of the Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, to get all of the court’s puzzle pieces, but Canada Basketball conquered the logistical half of its quest. It plans to soon unveil the reassembled floor from Game 6 of the 2019 N.B.A. finals as a tribute to the Raptors’ title team, then refinish the court with FIBA logos and international basketball markings before installing it at the 7,400-seat Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Is this project, though, bigger than basketball in Africa and Nigeria? Obviously, you want to advance the basketball programme, but knowing you, I think there’s a little bit more to it than just that… Mike Brown: For me, being African American, there’s no better connection for me than a country in Africa and especially Nigeria. There’s a quote from Nelson Mandela: “The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.” That’s our rallying cry. That’s our slogan. Obviously, we all know who Nelson Mandela is. We all know what he meant, not just to South Africa, but to the world, and in particular, all of Africa.

Has Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry ever talked to you about the Olympics? Do you guys talk Olympics at all? Mike Brown: There’s a little banter going around about the Olympics because we have a few guys within our building [who talk about the Olympics]. You have Steve Kerr, who’s on the USA Basketball coaching staff, you have Steph [Curry], who obviously has a really good chance to play for Team USA. You have Klay [Thompson] and Draymond [Green]. Klay would be playing if he wasn’t hurt. Draymond played before. Chris DeMarco is the head coach of the Bahaman national team. And then I have a couple of guys on my on the Warriors staff that are going to be a part of the Team Nigeria.

The Rockford native told reporters on Thursday he’s honored to receive consideration. He’s been used to being overlooked much of his basketball career. “It’s a big honor. It’s a lot of respect to be thought about for that pool of players to represent your country. It’s going to take some time to wrap my mind around that one. I’ve never been a part of that type of environment growing up. I didn’t do much of the AAU, you know, top 100, those type of things where it’s the same guys that you see all the time and they end up being a lottery pick.”

“The program is only as strong as its players will take it,” Mills says, before repeating himself. “I don’t say that necessarily as a good thing. We definitely have got some work to do in this area, I believe, but for now it’s full focus on Tokyo, and a gold medal would do wonders for our program, as at least a starting point. There’s a prestigious feeling within our program that needs to be a joint effort between the playing group and Basketball Australia to make sure when — we’ve lost ‘Bogues’ [Andrew Bogut], obviously — I step away, when Joe Ingles steps away, ‘Delly’ [Matthew Dellavedova], [Aron] Baynes — that that program is still elite, if not even more levels up, as it should be.”

Tatum said the NBA is working closely with the International Olympic Committee and FIBA, the sport’s global governing body, to ensure there is “the best possible schedule for everybody involved.” And it’s possible that the finalizing of Olympic rosters could be pushed back to allow NBA players the maximum amount of time before making decisions on whether to play or not. “It’s my expectation that our federation, FIBA, together with the IOC, will also work with us on potential accommodations, even in terms of when rosters would otherwise need to be submitted, recognizing that they’re going to need to be more flexible and work with us this season given how much uncertainty there is around the virus,” Silver said earlier this week.

Jared Dudley: Can’t play 50 games .. Thats a hard no for the players! Has to be a min of 72.. the real question is what change in a week? The league kept saying January January.. Everybody knew how big Christmas was and Olympics being late July months ago.. TV just mentioned it now??

With the next NBA season not expected to start until at least Dec. 1, that calls into some serious question whether that could overlap with Olympic qualifying tournaments that some nations will need to endure in June 2021 and the Tokyo Games themselves the following month. And Kerr, who is slated to be an assistant under San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich for USA Basketball in Tokyo, said Tuesday that he doesn’t have any idea how the schedule will work. “Believe it or not, I haven’t had a single conversation with Pop about that,” Kerr said. “And the reason is because we don’t know. We’ve been talking almost daily now for the last couple of weeks and before that we were speaking once every few weeks. So, we haven’t even had a single conversation because there’s nothing to report.”

But one way the NBA could alleviate the potential for an Olympic problem is to get away from the player-friendlier scheduling models used in recent seasons that greatly lowered back-to-backs and eliminated the dreaded stretches of four games in five nights. If the league did that, it could buy some time and possibly make the Olympics fit on some player and coach schedules. “They’ve talked to us on our team calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year, more so than in the past,” said Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk, whose coach — Lloyd Pierce — is also scheduled to be a USA Basketball assistant next summer along with Kerr and Villanova’s Jay Wright.

He’s eyeing another shot with the same Boomers core after steering them to fourth at the 2016 Olympics and last year’s World Cup. “I’m excited for 2021 because (before the postponement) we were going from the World Cup, to a 2020 NBA season and then straight into an Olympics,” he said. “So having this extra time now until the next season starts and then going into the Olympics will give everyone a chance to get their bodies into great shape and be ready to go.”

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year. Abe says recovery from the coronavirus pandemic only in Japan would not be enough to hold the Games because it involves spectators and athletes from around the world. He reiterates that the government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games “in a complete form” with spectators as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.

Patty Mills: “We are coming like a bat out of hell for this gold medal in Tokyo and that will still be our mindset. We have to adjust our approach a little bit. On one hand it gives some guys the ability to rehab certain niggling injuries they might be going through, on the other hand in a Bogut situation you understand and acknowledge [that he might retire] but knowing him, knowing the opportunity that is out there to create history. It’s something he’s fully aware of.”

It’s too early to tell when NBA will return and where the Dellavedova family will land next, but for now, there remains one concrete goal in place. A long-awaited medal for the Boomers in Tokyo. “We’ve been keeping in touch and that’s one of the things that has helped keep me motivated. We want to go out on a good note with that group. With the Olympics being pushed back we have the commitment to each other to stay in great shape and make the most of what is the last opportunity together.”

Dwyane Wade producing documentary on the Redeem Team

Dwyane Wade is producing a documentary on the “Redeem Team,” the United States men’s national basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. “It’s something that we’ve been working on for the last year or so,” Wade said on the Platform Basketball podcast. “For me, that was a big year, 2008. I had to kind of redeem myself, because everybody thought I was done.”

Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister and now president of the organizing committee, told the newspaper Nikkan Sports there would be no more delays if the games can’t be held in 2021. “No, in that situation, it will be canceled,” he said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been canceled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy.” Mori added: “This is a gamble for mankind. If the world triumphs over the virus and we can hold the Olympics, then our games will be so many times more valuable than any past Olympics.”

Among Canada Basketball’s highlights for 2020 was the opportunity to play host to a men’s last-chance qualifying tournament in June in Victoria. Coached by Nurse, the Canadian team was expected to feature a who’s who of NBA players. “FIBA is fully intent on running it here in Canada in Victoria [next summer],” Grunwald said, adding Victoria’s organizing committee is also on board for the postponed event. “I think it’s a good outcome of a bad situation,” he said. “There’s obviously a lot of details to be worked out, but I think it’s very positive for our men’s program.”

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that he has “hit the pause button” on planning for the next Olympics. Colangelo noted that there’s nothing now to do besides waiting to see exactly when the games in Tokyo will be held in 2021 — and if the new schedule will conflict with the NBA schedule. “It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We either have NBA players or we don’t,” Colangelo told The Associated Press. “And if we don’t, we’ll look at the other options.”

“We’re hopeful that this is going to take place in the same timeframe next summer as it was scheduled for this summer,” Colangelo said. “There are a lot of things that have to be done totally out of our control. We’re a follower in this situation. We’re dealing with the NBA, FIBA, the USOC, the International Olympic Committee, etc., etc. Here’s what we have to wait for now: What are the dates? Once they set the dates, then we will go into action.”

One of the contenders to carry the flag at Tokyo’s opening ceremony, Mills did his best to rally his fellow Olympians as they came to grips with the situation. “Just like every Olympic athlete around the world I’m absolutely gutted this crisis has affected the largest international sporting event in the world,” he said in a video he posted on Twitter. “Do not be discouraged by this adversity; as an Olympic athlete your goal remains the same; to represent our country the best way possible and strive to be your very best.”

“We are now confident that we have heard a wide range of viewpoints and understand the diversity of challenges our athletes face,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland and Chair Susanne Lyons said in a joint statement accompanying the survey results. “We regret that there is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face. Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”

The survey, sent to about 4,000 athletes with a 45 percent response rate, yielded results that included: Nearly 65 percent of athletes said their training has been severely impacted, or they can’t train at all. Nearly two-thirds of athletes feel that continuing to train would either put their health at risk or aren’t sure if it would put their health at risk. Nearly 70 percent of athletes said they would feel comfortable competing if the World Health Organization deemed it safe. 68 percent said they did not think the Games could be fairly competed if continued as scheduled. Nearly 93 percent reported a preference for postponing the Games versus canceling them outright.
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April 11, 2021 | 9:03 pm EDT Update