Are FIBA’s International Tournaments bad for the NBA?


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FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, has been overseeing international tournaments since 1932. As basketball’s popularity has increased internationally, the number of competitions that utilize NBA talent has grown quite a bit. While the increased global exposure is welcomed by the associations, there can be a major downside for many players.

Injuries sustained during FIBA competitions can be devastating to both players and teams. During the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Paul George shattered his right leg on a stanchion and ended up missing an entire season. That same year, DeMarcus Cousins injured his knee during one of the team’s practices. This year, during FIBA’s Oceania Championship, Dante Exum tore his ACL while playing for the Australian National Team. The loss of these players during regular season would be (and, for some, was) devastating for their teams.

We all know injuries are a common feature of athletics at all levels and there’s no way to avoid that. The major problem is that these “World Cup” type competitions utilize predominantly All-Star talent. When a World Cup player is injured, team’s not only lose a player, they lose a starter. This means the risks fall not only on the individual athletes, but also the franchises they represent.

There are currently 34 players invited to the team’s “minicamp” in Las Vegas that will take place August 11-13. Many of these players will gladly join the National Team, but some may choose to take a safer path. After Paul George’s injury last season, Kevin Durant changed his mind about international competition and opted out of the team. It looks like he’s chosen to opt out of this year’s competition as well.

Derrick Rose is another player who is undecided about joining the team. After injuries sidelined him in each of the last four seasons, many fans would like to see him avoid any additional exposure.

As the risks become more obvious, it’s clear that many players are starting to second-guess the value of participating in USA Basketball events. When the Olympic competition was every four years, it wasn’t such a big deal; but, as the tournament become more frequent, the prospect of injury is far more realistic.

The NBA and FIBA are currently partners, but it seems that FIBA benefit from the relationship more than individual NBA franchises. Unlike soccer, basketball’s World Cup doesn’t garner the same level of audience.  While most players would love to represent their country in these events, until these issues are fixed,  it’s might not be practical.