You know what's sure to go over like a lead balloon with NBA fans, always so charitable in their interpretations of their stars' motivations? Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen suggesting that Olympic basketball players should be paid to play for Team USA.
FOX Sports Florida's Chris Tomasson caught up with Wade and his Heat teammates, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, to ask about Allen's statement in support of Team USA players being compensated.
"First of all, it’s an honor to play in the Olympics, but there are a lot of things you do for the Olympics. A lot of jerseys you sell. There are a lot of things you do. We play the whole summer," Wade said. "I do think guys should be compensated, just like I think college players should be compensated as well. Unfortunately, it's not that, but I think it should be something for it."
"You're not playing for the dollar, but that would be nice if you were to get compensated," said Wade, who has said 2012 will be his last Olympics. "I totally agree (with Allen). I think licensing can be a way. Maybe you say licensing would maybe not be fair because everyone wouldn't get the same amount. But that's something that (others) got to worry about because this will be my last time around."
Snipping just those two paragraphs, as the Internet will (guilty as charged), casts Wade in a bad light: not only does he want to get paid, it seems like he only cares if he gets paid, thanks to that "(others) got to worry about" bit. But that would detract from Wade's very good point about getting no rest ("You go to the end of the season and (Olympic) training camp is two weeks later. So you're giving up a lot to do it. It's something that you want to do. But it's taxing on your body."), and the unstated point Wade doesn't quite get to, which is that playing basketball at the level that NBA stars play it at requires a lot of hard work, and people are typically compensated for that. It'll happen, and it won't be fun, but Wade discussing the fealty to "amateurism" expected of professional athletes when representing their country is a good conversation-starter.
And if Wade takes flak for this, so be it: he and Allen are among the most beloved American basketball stars, and they can court controversy without worrying about it damaging their appeal; if James and Bosh, who both demurred on whether they support Wade and Allen, were to speak out in favor of this, they would be barbecued.
Will Wade's or Allen's words change things? Probably not, and they'll probably look more selfish if they threaten to not play in London this summer without getting compensated. It's a start, though.
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