Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 1/27/12
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DALLAS -- How ancient is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's opposition to the risk of NBA players participating in the Olympics? It predates Dirk Nowitzki's present conditioning concerns. It predates this decade. It predates Rodrigue Beaubois' international injury issue. Heck, the subject is so time-worn that when Cuban first broached it, Roddy B was 14 years old. It's been around so long that Don Nelson once said Cuban's belief shows he is unpatriotic. "Why are we giving our most valuable manpower to a huge business, the Olympics, so they can try to take revenue away from the NBA and our partners?" Cuban protested. "Where is the logic in any of this?" When did Cuban say that? In 2004. The Mavs owner is touching on the subject again this week and is creating yet another wave of discussion regarding whether highly-paid pros should be eligible for the Olympics, which can put them at injury risk and hurt them as assets to the franchises that pay them. "I really don't care what anybody thinks," the owner told FOXSports on Thursday when we asked him about the incendiary headlines and reactions to his words. "My position stands on its own merit." Cuban, the provocative nature of his statements and the overreaction to them aren't the real news here; rationally discussing the issue is important and overcoming name-calling is important, too. Don Nelson, after he'd left the Mavs employ and was embroiled in a legal dispute with Cuban, responded to his former boss' long-standing view in 2008 by telling the Dallas Morning News, "I couldn't disagree more. It's not about the money. There is pride in these athletes. He ought to have more respect for his country. Everybody in the NBA makes plenty of money. It's not too much to ask that every four years you give something back to your country." Again, incendiary stuff... but maybe missing the point that is better framed every time we discuss the topic with Dallas GM Donnie Nelson, Don's son and Cuban's right-hand with the Mavs. "I will say this about national pride," Donnie Nelson has told us. "The beauty of America is that we all get to think and feel and speak however we wish. If you want to participate, you can. If you don't, that's acceptable, too. My view is, that's what America and being an American is all about. Specific to what Mark feels, I think he makes good points. He's allowed to feel the way he does. That's what it's all about." Cuban not only has complaints but also potential solutions. In short, he suggests a) that the Olympics basketball program be open to players 21-and-younger only; and b) that if NBA veterans are to play in country-against-country competition, that such play occur in international tournaments that are owned and operated by the NBA. "And either solution works for me," Cuban tells us. "To me, the second is far more interesting and makes more sense." Cuban has harbored and expressed these thoughts since 2004. The challenge is to fight through the verbal fireworks to get anybody to listen.
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