Stern may push for Olympic change

Associated Press  |  Last updated May 30, 2012
David Stern wants to take a closer look at flopping and referees to be able to take a second look at all flagrant fouls. And the NBA commissioner isn't sure he wants to see his veteran players in the Olympics anymore. Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the league is committed to sending top players to the Olympics only through London, and then wants to look into saving them just for the world basketball championship and having the Olympics reserved for those 23 and under, as soccer does. That discussion will happen later with FIBA, basketball's world governing body. First, Stern has some changes he wants to talk over with the recently changed Competition Committee. He has previously urged a crackdown on flopping, the art of players falling down to make officials believe they were fouled. He called for a ''not instant, but thorough review.'' ''I think we are going to approach something that many tell me is impossible, which is deciding whether someone was acting or was actually, and thereby tending, intending to trick the fans, and the referees; or, whether there was a legitimate reason for that particular person to go sprawling,'' Stern said. ''And then the question is, what to do in that case, and that's the kind of discussion that I look forward to having with the committee.'' Referees can currently only review the more severe Flagrant 2 fouls, to decide if they were indeed worthy of an automatic ejection or should be downgraded to a level 1. The issue came up during the Miami-Indiana series, when a flagrant against the Heat's Udonis Haslem appeared to fit the criteria of a 2 - and was upgraded to that the next day by the league office - but was only ruled a 1 on the floor and officials had no ability to look at it again. ''I think that we ought to have video review of flagrant ones and twos, and that's something that the committee should look at,'' Stern said. Stern said he also wants an end to defensive basket interference. The biggest change could be the look of the Olympic teams in 2016. NBA players began competing in 1992 in Barcelona, with the famed U.S. team of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and the rest of a squad that was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame two years ago. ''It's the 20th anniversary of Barcelona, where the only Dream Team that I ever celebrated played,'' Stern said. This year's U.S. team could include the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but it would be time for the younger guys to take over if the change that Stern and Silver are warming to was enacted. ''We think international soccer has an excellent model and in the case of soccer, of course, there's the World Cup of football, which is the biggest sporting event in the world every four years, and then in the off years, for the World Cup, they play, in essence, with some exceptions, a 23-and-under competition at the Olympics,'' Silver said. ''And there's a recognition certainly Mark Cuban, other owners have raised repeatedly the issue of our players playing in essence year round when you add the Olympics to our newly renamed world championship of basketball to our World Cup of Basketball. So when you have the Olympics, the World Cup of Basketball, we are taking a very close look at whether it makes sense from an NBA standpoint and a global basketball standpoint for the top players to be playing at that level on a year round basis, and somewhere (every) summer. ''So what we have told FIBA and what David has announced several times is that we are all in through the London Olympics, and then post-London Olympics, we want to step back together with USA Basketball, led by Jerry Colangelo and Patrick Baumann in FIBA, and the same way David talked about the new commission being a deliberate body, and I think together with the Competition Committee a committee of owners, we need to take a long-term view of what makes sense both for the NBA and for the game.'' Colangelo has said he doesn't want to discuss the proposal until after the Olympics, believing it is a distraction to bring it up now. It's unknown how FIBA would feel, knowing how much basketball has grown in the 20 years NBA players started playing in the Olympics. Stern also said the league is confident in the arbitration case the union brought against it involving the Bird Rights of the Knicks' Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, among others. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the player keeps his rights, which allow teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign them, if he changed teams by trade. The players' association argues that a player and his contract going from one team to another should also maintain his rights through a waiver claim. ''We believe that the position that we are espousing here is the one that the contract says is the one and that the arbitrator will confirm,'' Stern said.
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