I tend to look at it from the other side of the spectrum, as the national team efforts of so many countries and their participation in the men's Olympic basketball tournament has been the catalyst for good players becoming great players.
Exhibit 1-A: Lebron James. James grew up because of his participation with USA Basketball. First, because of the slight given to James by 2004 USA coach Larry Brown, but, more importantly, because of the 'off court' education he received from 2006-2008 under USA Basketball guru Jerry Colangelo, USA Sr. team coach Mike Krzyzewski and the whole USA effort.
Exhibit 2-A is certainly Carmelo Anthony who has become a real force and complete player after seeing real preparation, individual commitment and teamwork fostered by Coach K, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and the majority of players who took part in the USA effort to reclaim the gold.
Closer to Cuban, I offer the progress that Steve Nash made after he led Canada to the 2000 Olympics with a miracle performance at the 1999 Tournament of the Americas. Not to mention the improvement that Dirk Nowitzki makes each time he plays and carries the German National team. I could cite many others, so suffice it to say the comparison is about 1000 to one in terms of players participating for their national team (at any level) and improving their game and their maturation vs. a player being injured or set-back because of the effort.
What is often ignored or misconstrued in this process is the fact that all players have to PLAY and work out in the off-season and they often play in less than first class facilities, under far less supervision, medical attention and post game care than any team would prefer. So, would you rather have the 20-30 best players in the country all working together, playing together and having some of the world's best team doctors, athletic trainers and support, not to mention best coaches - or would you rather have 12-15 guys playing against wanna be players at a Houston or New York "basketball city" facility where some 20-something wants to show off to a Steve Nash and prove that he's 'better' than Nashie?
It surprises me that -- after so many years in the NBA -- Cuban is still in the dark on so many issues related to the game. While he has been so successful in some areas of the team's basketball operation (and, obviously in his incredible personal business), he is rarely seen anywhere other than Dallas Mavericks games and is clearly not aware of what goes on behind the scenes at the EuroLeague, NBL, Bundeslega, ACB, (and all the others) and in the various national team tournaments, national team training and the like. His one beef or concern should be to improve the national team training and medical facilities and help fund off court efforts for the likes of the Puerto Rico or German federations and others that wear NBA/Dallas jerseys during the basketball year.
So, to sum it up, Cuban constantly whines about the NBA funding and developing players for the IOC effort every four years in the Olympics, but he conveniently ignores/overlooks the following:
1. The national team efforts around the globe are a constant and very effective source of player development for the Mavericks and all the other NBA, WNBA and D-League teams.
2. Participating in the Olympics and World Championships help players mature and perform at a higher level when they return to play for their respective teams in the NBA following the bigtime tourneys.
3. The NBA benefits from the additional exposure of the Olympics and the TV viewership of the Olympic basketball tournament can cultivate much needed (non-core) fans for the NBA. That "every four year cycle" is a very nice booster shot for the NBA on a regular basis.
From a note in Saturday's Boston Globe, I will pass along some info to help support Paul Epstein's great efforts with his brother, Theo, along with E1evate Communications terrific operation of "Hot Stove, Cool Music," coming this January at House of Blues. The venue change will be a welcome upgrade over the smaller, dingy Paradise.
The 10th Hot Stove Cool Music concert will be Jan. 9 at the House of Blues behind Fenway Park. The show will include the bands State Radio, Tinted Windows, and The Low Anthem along with The Hot Stove All-Stars, which feature Epstein, Peter Gammons, Bronson Arroyo, Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo), Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom), and Ken Casey (Dropkick Murphys).
Tickets are $40 and go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster. Proceeds benefit the Foundation To Be Named Later, which was founded by Epstein and his brother, Paul. The foundation has donated $2 million to 150 nonprofit organizations.
A pre-concert baseball roundtable at Fenway Park will include Gammons, Epstein, Mets GM Omar Minaya, and Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, among others. Tickets for that event are $100 and available at hscm.tickets.musictoday.com