Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 4/12/12
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Vince Boryla can't go to his left very well anymore. Or even to his right. He doesn't crash the boards or set picks like back when he earned the nickname "Moose." But if anybody wants to challenge him, nothing has changed from six decades ago. "I just think it's mind-boggling that the thought would come to anybody's mind that Olympic players should be paid," Boryla said by phone from his Denver home. "That's the way I look at it, and if anybody wants to speak up against it with me, I'll be very happy to challenge him at any time." Boryla, 85, still can get ornery. He was responding to a question about Boston guard Ray Allen and Miami guard Dwyane Wade, a pair of gold medalists, having said NBA players should be compensated for playing in the Olympics. Boryla knows a bit about Olympic basketball. When amateurs competed, he won a gold medal for Team USA at the 1948 Games in London. The 6-foot-5 forward went on to play in the NBA with New York from 1949-54, appearing in the first All-Star Game in 1951. He coached the Knicks from 1955-58 and was the NBA Executive of the Year with the Denver Nuggets in 1984-85. But Boryla's proudest accomplishment was winning that gold medal 64 years ago. How proud is he of it? He had it configured into a necklace, enabling his wife, Mary Jo, to wear it to social events the Borylas attend. It recently was on display when they went out on Easter Sunday. Boryla, who talked with pride about representing his country at the second Olympics that featured basketball, can't figure out why any player would want to be paid for something he considered the experience of a lifetime. "If a person that lives in the United States, the greatest country in the world, can't give a few weeks beyond the millions of dollars they make, that's ridiculous," Boryla said. "Nobody says that they don't deserve that (NBA salary). But I can't conceive how anybody with a halfway decent sense would make that statement. If they don't want to play (for free), then we can find some other talented players that would be very happy to partake in the Olympics without being paid for their time and effort." It all started when Allen, a 2000 gold-medal winner, told FOX Sports Florida on Tuesday he believes NBA players in the Olympics should be compensated. Then Wade, who won bronze in 2004 and gold in 2008 and likely will be on this year's team in London, said Wednesday he agreed with Allen. Allen isn't even a future Olympic candidate and Wade didn't sound greedy when talking about it. Neither suggested a dollar amount, but both said the payments could come from the sale of Team USA jerseys. But their reasoning is misguided. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo explained Wednesday that players on the Olympic team end up with additional money because they nearly all have shoe and apparel deals that are helped when they travel around the globe with USA Basketball. "It's a privilege to represent your country and there are some amazing financial benefits," Colangelo said. Colangelo also said many Olympic players previously represented young amateur USA Basketball teams, which are funded by the money generated by the men's Olympic and World Championship teams. While Wade's first Team USA experience was at the Olympics in 2004, Allen had played for USA Basketball at the World University Games in 1995 well before his Olympic experience. To many, representing one's country at the Olympics remains sacred. And it doesn't help when guys saying that the players should be paid include Allen, who has made 178 million in his NBA career, and Wade, who has earned 85 million. "It was just a fantastic honor to be chosen to represent my country," said Boryla, who played at Notre Dame and the University of Denver and whose top NBA salary in the 1950s was 16,500 a year. "Nobody mentioned at one time (in 1948) that they should be paid for their time." Why should they have? Boryla said he had the time of his life that summer. The basketball team traveled by boat from New York to London, the trip taking seven days. The players, by jogging and throwing the ball around on deck, tried to stay in shape. But that didn't work out too well. "We all must have gained 10 pounds during the trip," Boryla said. "The food on the ship was the best I ever had. I shared a table with (teammate) Alex Groza, and we tipped the waiter 20 bucks to make sure that no dessert that we hadn't tried yet went by our table without us trying it." Perhaps they arrived a bit chubby, but that didn't hurt the Americans. They went 8-0, beating France 65-21 in the gold-medal game. Now, the Olympics will return to London. Boryla figures it will be a bit different this time for the basketball players than it was in 1948, when Team USA even resorted to playing an exhibition game outdoors in Scotland shortly before the start of the Games. "They players now will stay in outstanding places," said Boryla, who averaged 5.6 points for the 1948 team. "We stayed in what were like college dorms. We had a great feeling of togetherness. We went out together. We played gin rummy together. We just had a great time." And to think nobody asked to get be paid. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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