HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Playing for the Heat, Thunder, Celtics, Lakers or any other franchise has always been a pay-for-play proposition for NBA players.
But what about when the USA is splashed across your chest?
Heat star Dwyane Wade piggybacked on comments made a day earlier by Celtics veteran swingman Ray Allen in stating that he believes the players on the Olympic team deserve some sort of compensation outside of medals won and the appreciation of millions for their service the country.
(That $25,000 handed out for gold medals is gas money for the NBA stars that populate the team.)
It’s a bold statement for one of the league’s biggest and highest paid stars to make, especially when you consider the economic times we are in as a country, one that he backed off of this morning — telling ESPN.com that “he does not want to be paid to play in London this summer.”
But in his initial statement, Wade presented quite a compelling case to Mike Wallace of ESPN.com:
“It’s a lot of things you do for the Olympics — a lot of jerseys you sell,” Wade said after the Heat’s practice on Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s game against Chicago. “We play the whole summer. I do think guys should be compensated. Just like I think college players should be compensated as well. Unfortunately, it’s not there. But I think it should be something, you know, there for it.”
Wade said he hasn’t thought about how much players should be paid for their time. But he said there is a demanding schedule that comes with a commitment to the national team. This summer, NBA players whose teams advance deep into the playoffs could have only a couple of weeks of downtime before the start of Team USA’s training camp in late July.
… “The biggest thing is now you get no rest,” Wade said. “So you go to the end of the season, [Team USA] training camp is two weeks later. You’re giving up a lot to do it. It’s something you want to do. But it’s taxing on your body. You’re not playing for the dollar. But it would be nice if you would get compensated.”
Later on Twitter, Wade clarified his thoughts to his followers: “What I was referencing is there is a lot of Olympic business that happens that athletes are not a part of – and it’s a complicated issue.
“BUT my love 4 the game & pride 4 USA motivates me more than any $$$ amount. I repped my country in 2004 when we won the bronze medal and stood proudly to receive our gold medal in 2008 in Beijing. It’s always been an honor for me to be a part of the USA Olympic family…and I’m looking forward to doing it again in London this summer.”
Wade is right, it’s a complicated issue that doesn’t lend itself to sound bites or the 140 character limit on Twitter. And let’s be clear, he did say that he is looking forward to competing in London this summer, without worry about compensation.
But does he have a point?
Should NBA players risk all that they do to participate without receiving some sort of compensation for all the revenue they will generate as part of the Olympic team?
Allen has clearly given the idea some serious thought, telling FoxSportsFlorida.com:
“You talk about the patriotism that guys should want to play for, but you (need to) find a way to entice the guys,” Allen said. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world if you play deep in the playoffs and then you get two, three weeks off and then you start training again to play more basketball where it requires you to be away from home and in another country. It’s fun, but your body does need a break.
“Everybody says, ‘Play for your country.’ But (NBA players are) commodities, your businesses. You think about it, you do camps in the summer, you have various opportunities to make money. When you go overseas and play basketball, you lose those opportunities, what you may make… If I’m an accountant and I get outsourced by my firm, I’m going to make some money somewhere else.”