Age-Limit Rule An Issue for 2016?

LONDON — If the movement that many believe to be afoot has any legs, Anthony Davis might be the only member of the current U.S. Men’s Senior National Team automatically eligible to participate in the 2016 Olympics.

There are rumblings that this might be the last Olympics for all NBA players if an 23-under age-limit rule goes into effect before the next Summer Games are held in Rio de Janeiro.

NBA Commissioner David Stern insists that there has been no “definitive” stance on the issue yet, but USA Basketball chairman and managing director Jerry Colangelo admitted Friday morning that he “senses there’s a change in the air, and when that takes place remains to be seen.”

Colangelo said that there have been discussions about the “23-under” rule, which FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has implemented for the men in this summer’s Games, with the caveat that the each team can have three players over the age of 23. And there are plenty of discussions to come regarding FIBA and the rules that will impact Olympic basketball for years to come.

“If there is a change, then we’ll address the change and do what needs to be done,” Colangelo said. “We have a wealth of talent to select from at all ages now. Our junior teams are all gold medalists and they want to play for the senior team. So we’ll be able to pull from a lot of players.”

As for the age-limit rule, Colangelo has an appreciation for both sides of the argument having spent four decades at the forefront of the game in the NBA and beyond.

“There are pluses and minuses and pros and cons, a lot to be negotiated, a lot of parties to get to the table to agree and who knows how long that will take,” he said. “I just have to keep going forward and do whatever I have to do. Our job, my job and whoever follows me, and that’s to be as competitive as you can within the parameters you have to work with. And you can do that with great infrastructure. And we do. That’s the point. We have built the infrastructure and we should be able to handle any changes that come our way.”

If that change is anything like what’s already gone on here in men’s soccer, it won’t come without a price to the world’s most powerful programs.

Gold-medal favorite Spain lost to Japan, 1-0. Uruguay, another contender, rallied from an early deficit and survived a scare from United Arab Emirates to win its opener, 2-1. And powerhouse Brazil scored three times in the first 30 minutes against Egypt, and still had to hold on for a 3-2 win. Host-nation team Great Britain, making its first appearance at the Summer Games since 1960, finished in a 1-1 draw with Senegal.

Spain is making a bid to become the first nation to hold the World Cup, European and Olympic soccer titles simultaneously, but only has four members of the Euro 2012 championship team on its roster here and was dominated by Japan.

That’s the sort of parity that basketball has never enjoyed in the Olympics, with the U.S. team shooting for a 14th gold medal in its 18th Olympic competition.

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are playing in their third straight Games, joining David Robinson as the only Americans on three Olympic basketball teams. And Anthony, 28, said he’s not ruling out a return trip in 2016, provided his age then doesn’t rule him out of competition.

“I don’t like that rule,” he said. “But I’m just one guy … after this one, we’ll see. I love Brazil. I really wouldn’t want to miss that trip. If I decided I wanted to come back in 2016 I wouldn’t be able to get my fourth Olympics. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like that rule.”

Kobe Bryant was defiant in his stance on the 23-under rule, calling it a “stupid idea” last week.

Colangelo was much more diplomatic, of course, but he let this current team’s rock star status here illustrate his point.

“These guys are some of the most recognizable athletes in the world,” he said. “As big as they are in the states, when they are elsewhere in the world they are kind of rocks stars because the fans and the people who love the game have a chance to get up close to them and be in their company.

“Look, I’m a builder, and I love what ‘s happened in basketball the last four decades, basically my whole life in basketball. So I want to continue to build it. I don’t want to see anything take it away. And I do know this, the two hottest tickets in town are track and field and basketball. That’s says something to me.”


  1. makataeus says:

    To my understanding the Olympics is a competition and if countries are involved it means proving who is the best in the world at whatever sport. By having this 23 and under rule in place means you don’t allow the best players compete which ruins the competition and doesn’t make it as enjoyable to watch, where it’s not often you get to see a star studded talent show. Then again why all the other sports are allowed the best athletes in the world to play is ridiculous. If your going to put a rule in make it apply to everyone, if it doesn’t work for everyone then don’t do it. Simple!

  2. DavetheAussie says:

    Stern seems to have an unrealistic view of the global popularity of basketball. Yes, the sport is popular worldwide but even though the FIBA World Championships have more teams compete they still lag behind the Cricket and Rugby World Cups in global viewing numbers (The last cricket WC had 2.2 billion global viewers, Rugby had over 4 billion and the 2010 FIBA’s had 1 billion). Also, just because they say that they want a world cup of basketball to be as prestigious as soccer’s World Cup doesn’t mean that it will be, the average U.S. audience for the 2010 tournament was 900,000, less than the numbers for the NBA’s viewership that season. For Stern’s plan to work, that tournament has to get more people watching than those who watch the regular season because the glorious thing about World Cups is that people who are not normally fans of the sport will watch and support their country out of nationalistic pride. If he can’t convince the American public to watch it, how does he plan to convince the world?

  3. Williams says:

    Stern is obviously forgetting why we allowed them in the first place. To not allow them would harm the Olympics and the united states. These games are for the best of the best in the world. If the best is 38 then the “young guns” need to step up. As for the rest of the would they need to step up too. I honestly dont believe the rest of the countries in the world want to play against 23 and under. They want to play the BEST OF THE BEST

  4. The Movement says:

    I seriously don’t want to watch a bunch of little kids play in these games. Inexperience vs Experience……….oh gee, how ever will I decided.

  5. BALL says:

    I think it will make international b-ball more fair. Nobody has to worry about the U.S. big guns. U.S. just need Kevin Durants under the age of 23, thats all cause every other team is also u-23, so it will be more fair

  6. Jeffrey says:

    In soccer, they are allowed to have three players over 23 at the olympics.

  7. Oldhawk says:

    Most Euro players are veterans by the time they are 20 years old, playing professional sports at 15 we have a small amount of athletes coming straight out of high school ,so the Euro players would the same advantage they had 20 years ago.

  8. derek says:

    If this rule comes into play in 2016 I would be very dissapointed. The whole point of the olympics is to see who is the best of the best and taking the best out just because they want younger players to play is completely unfair.

  9. Diego says:

    I am a big soccer fan and I love the world cup. Every soccer player’s dream is to win a world cup. This rule will put the same emphasis on the basketball world cup as it does to soccer. Ask Kobe, he went to South Africa when the soccer world cup was held there in 2010. Basketball is a growing sport and probably the 2nd most popular behind soccer. This would help it grow a lot. FIFA has under-17 and under-20 world cups as well as the world cup. The Olympics are basically the under-23 world cup.

  10. Canadian Kid says:

    making an age-limited basketball would wreck the experience… there is a man from canada competing in his 10th olympic games named Ian Millar… he competed in 1972 long before i was even born but i think that it is a right for the men and women of the world to compete if they want to and are good enough!

  11. knickfan212 says:

    Stern is coming to the end of the road so he must put one more dumb idea into play.

  12. cal says:

    I’m against this U-23 rule in basketball.

    The reason why football (soccer) is applying this rule in the Olympics it’s because most of the world’s elite players are playing in European leagues and at this time of the year, most of them are preparing for the upcoming season which usually starts in late August to early September. FIFA are in conflict of these coz it will undermine some international tournaments like the World Cup and Euro and the European teams would not let release their star players due to preparations. It’s like playing an int’l tournament while the NBA teams are at training camp.

    While in basketball, the Olympics is the most prestigious int’l tournament in basketball and the Olympics are held in the right time between the end of the previous season and the beginning of the next season. People would rather see LeBron and Kobe playing at the most important int’e event in basketball rather than some newly-drafted players.

  13. Roman Bellic says:

    I would like the limit be raised to 30! That way American could send ‘pros’ to compete and other countries to have a chance at the Gold!!

  14. euroschool says:

    So to clarify, the last comment also contadicts what Sekou said about the current team (that only Davis would be able to compete, because under-23 also includes 23 year-olds…plus Harden is 22, and everybody here including the writer on this column seems to be set on an opinion without actually knowing very much about the issue at hand.

    • JustaFan says:

      I think the wrtie is refeering to the next Olympics. who can or cannot qualify from this year’s USA team.
      Just saying.

    • jaime says:

      Its not even like that. It applies to athletes who are 23 at any point of the year of the olympics. So even people that became 24 this year can actually compete. At least thats how ir works in soccer olympics and similar tournaments that hace an age limit.

  15. A says:

    hey, what if the rule was that the team can only USE three over-23 per game.
    so let the NBA millionaires buy their own ticket to Brazil and let the coach figure out who to throw in with NCAA kids each night

  16. MC4N says:

    I believe this is just the NBA team owners move. deep inside they are against sending their franchise players to the olympics and getting injured(like what happened to blake G)

  17. Kakoro says:

    To whoever want to implement this rule: As an African NBA & Basketball fan i would like to see the best players represent their countries at the olympics. In short in order to be the best u have to beat the best not kids beating kids to determine the best. Just imagine if this olympics were without Bron, Kobe, Melo, Durant….

  18. Cordell says:

    How is the 23 and under rule fair when the other countries put GROWN MEN in their competitions????

    • Trent says:

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong but this is a rule coming from FIBA and the olympic comittee not from the USA/NBA. Every other team would also have U-23 players too. They wouldn’t have their “grown me” as you put it. Also did you see Lebron James and Dwight Howard and people like that at 23? You can’t grow much more than that…

  19. Nico says:

    People think this is supposed to limit the USA’s dominance, but the US will still be able to dominate. There’s always a handfull of American stars under 23. If there were an age limit this year, we would still have Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Love, and Davis. That’s a decent starting lineup. If the rule is applied to other teams, 80% of their best players become unavailable. Rubio (if he were healthy), Ibaka and Batum would be the best non-american players in the Olympics.

  20. lebron#6 says:

    wow looks like the olympics are tired of USA and its dream team destroying competition this is total bs

  21. Basketball Junkie....I need a fix says:

    IMHO….I feel that it isn’t fair to the players. Most NBA players enter the league with hopes and dreams other than becoming rich. They want to win championships, play in all-star games, and hopefully represent the USA in the Olympics. Lets take Bernard James who is beginning his NBA career at 27. What if he develops into an all-star player and once the Olympics roll around in 2016 (under new rule if in effect) he may not have the opportunity to play beacuse of his age. I feel that age shouldn’t be a factor in determining if a player should or shouldn’t represent Team USA. Lebron, Carmelo, Durant, Westbrook, etc. should be allowed to compete in upcoming Olympics if they are still healthy and active NBA players.

  22. Rocabye says:

    Yes but back then professional sports were not nearly as international as they are now. It basically had to be for amateurs because thats all most countries had. Nowadays we can have a competition amongst the best…which is what I want to see.

  23. Hamp says:

    Most of you are maybe too young to remember that before the Dream Team, we sent amateur b’ballers. Hell, back in the day, they were all amateurs, no pros, and it was really more enjoyable. I’d like to see the age limit on swimming, track, many events to get these ‘pro’ swimmers to get a real job. Let the youngsters have the experience of a lifetime.

    • nohairdontcare says:

      Agreed. Most people here are probably too young to know that. The Olympics was all about amateurs.

      • Trent says:

        Actually they weren’t. In 88 Russia beat our amateurs with an all pro team. USA was the only major team to not use pros. Not everyone was NBA but they all played in their countries respective leagues. That’s why there was so much effort to build the dream team in 92 to crush everyone and show just how dominant we really were when we had our best on the court. Even with the U-23 rule you’d still have pros playing. Guys like Davis who are rookies or 1-2 year guys will still play, along with their counterparts in other leagues around the world. And if you take guys like Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobli off other countries are they really going to be that much more competitive? Also a lot of those guys got picked up for the NBA because of how well they played against our guys in the olympics. Wouldn’t it hurt to see these truly great players be taken out of the games?

    • jaime says:

      There you werent seeing the best of the best, you were seeing a trainning scout camp. The olympics is about always watching the best, not the best to become. Or do you prefere watching NCAA basketball over NBA basketball???

  24. Law064 says:

    I agree that if they put that under 23 rule in it will be a dumb idea. Like other comments it’s supposed to be the BEST representing their countries. I think that idea is ridiculous, even though I think the US would still have great players. I just think that the Olympic’s are all about the best of the best no matter the age.

  25. DARKR00 says:

    Disagree with the idea totally, all ages should participate. If your good enough you should be rewarded to play for your country simple as that, regardless of how good or bad your team is. As a Aussie i would love to see a very “superstarless” team give the yanks a run for there money adds a twist to the sport, but thats my view.

  26. JPP says:

    FOOTBALL (soccer to the americans..) has had this rule since Atlanta 1996 ( 3 over-aged players and the rest U-23) and before that it was only allowed U-23 without the 3 over-aged! The Olympics are always held in the same summer that the UEFA EURO is held! Even if it was allowed players of all ages in FOOTBALL no important country would bring their best players because the EURO and the WORLD CUP are the only REAL MAJOR EVENTS throghout the WORLD! every country would trade 100 gold medals for the FOOTBALL WORLD CUP!!!The NBA is great but it will allways be secondary to FOOTBALL IN ALL THE WORLD!and by the way no one but not even one person outside the U.S. cares about baseball or american football…

  27. A Lee says:

    Basketball is one of the flagship sports in the Olympics now because of the Dream Team. No way in hell should they make it a U23 for all of the countries like they did with at least men’s soccer, and that has minimized the importance of soccer in the Olympics as well.

  28. 16going417 says:

    I agree Sea Pea. The Olympics are supposed to be about each country presenting their BEST players to perform before the entire world and compete for the Gold. However, this is what happens when a specific sport or category is dominated. People try to change the rules in order to circumvent the dominance.

    Although I agree the U.S. could still win utilizing younger players and I would still support them, I don’t think I would make as much of an effort to watch the games/competition (Honestly who watched Olympic basketball before NBA players starting playing?). So, ultimately the Olympic committee or who ever is trying to implement this rule will only hurt the legitimacy of the gamesmanship.

    Then we will debate which country would win if certain players were eligible vs. talking about which team from which era is better. It’s always something……

  29. Foreigner says:

    For me, as someone living abroad and whose chances to view the world’s greatest stars are few and far between, imposing an age limt would rob me of the opportunity to see the game played at the highest level by the biggest stars. Parity will come with time, one day the rest of the world will provide strong competition for the US, for now let us admire their superiority.

  30. Gatez says:

    Most STAR players tend to be over 23, therefore this will definitely lead to a decline in viewership and lose much attraction of fans if this happened.

  31. Jorge Vaz says:

    Olympics should not be for people that make millions as professionals, be it basketball, tennis, soccer, etc.
    I would like to see the olympic spirit comimg back.

    • CJ says:

      The Olympics is for the best athletes in the world. Why should we take them out of the Olympics simply because they are making millions in their profession? That’s arguably worse than this proposed U-23 rule (which I don’t like at all).

    • jaime says:

      What the hell is the olympic spirit but then to see the best of the best (which are obviuosly the best paid) play against each other. Dont be stupid dude.

  32. Filippetto says:

    This rule works in soccer because the world cup is an event as big as the Olimpics, also there are others internacional competitions in the four years span between the cups. This way the soccer in the summer games hasn’t a lot of importance. But, in basketball people stilll don’t care for the world championship, or regional cups like FIBA Américas. In my opinion, if they want to shut down basketball competition in the Olimpics (nobody cares to under-23 games), they must first create another oportunities for the fans around the globe to see the best players of the world defending its countries. Or at least make the worlds bigger and greater. Unfortunately, basketball still isn’t as big in the world as soccer and doing it is to put obstacles in the growth of the sport.
    And please, as a brazilian, I really don’t want lo lose the opportunity to see the greatest playing live.:)

  33. Sea Pea says:

    The Olympics must not want the best in the world. It’s a blow to the credibility of the whole event. Why even play then? Why don’t you just let the press and the coaches vote on who should have the gold. Might as well….

  34. Jack says:

    Yes. I think this is an issue since there are a lot of good players that are well over the age limit. And the olympics should be for all the age categories.

    • Bonafide says:

      David Stern DOES NOT WANT OVER 23 PLAYERS BEACUSE CHANCES ARE THEY ARE ALL MAX CONTRACT PLAYERS THAT COULD AFFECT REVENUES IN THE NBA SEASON SHOULD THEY GET INJURED IN INTERNATIONAL PLAY. This means he does not benefit from them playing for TEAM USA because it is not sanctioned by the NBA and therefore wants to keep all of the older established players in the USA only without the added risk of playing too much and risking injury from no summer rest.

      If the olympics is about the best in the world competeing, then whos to say that the best players arent older than 23? If he wants the soccer(football) model than he should be the commissioner of that sport.

      Selfish old man that needs to retire.

    • Coach Dee says:

      How about under-40 rule on being NBA commissioner?