There is no denying that America has the best basketball players in the world.
The U.S. has dominated international play for years, whether it is with the Dream Team in 1992 or to the present day all-stars of the 2012 London Olympics.
Because of Team USA's dominance, some have argued that NBA players should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics. The U.S. had always used college players, until the team failed to win a gold medal in 1988. The following year, FIBA allowed NBA players to participate in international games.
Why does Team USA feel it has to prove to the world how good it is when they seemingly dominate all the time?
While they have expressed their opposition to NBA players participating in the Olympic Games quietly, NBA owners are not too fond of the idea of seeing their players risk injury. Unlike in the NFL, NBA contracts are guaranteed.
The recent injury to Los Angeles Clipper Blake Griffin won't make owners feel any better about their stars playing in the Olympics.
Soon after signing a five-year extension worth $95 million, Griffin must now undergo his second knee surgery. He hurt same knee that kept him out of action his entire rookie season, and won't play in the 2012 Olympics as a result.
Although many owners believe that allowing these players to freely participate in the games should be a violation of the contract, purely based on the risk of serious injury, the players see things very differently.
The pride of playing for their country, and ultimately, for bragging-rights to the world, keeps players on the court even after the NBA season is over. LeBron James will play in the Olympics after playing in four playoff series following a regular season with very few off days.
I told myself, as long as I stay healthy through the playoffs and the regular season I was going to be a part of this team. I think I finished the season pretty strong, said James. You can get hurt doing anything. You can get hurt in the summertime just working out as well.
James isn't the only player who has gone public about his Olympic stance.
Kobe Bryant is also a believer that an injury can occur anytime and anywhere, and playing for the Olympics is no different than practicing.
I could get hurt just as easily playing pickup basketball in the gym somewhere, Bryant said. Here, I'm playing with the best in the world and I have the best treatment in the world. So, I feel safer here.
This is our way to provide service to our country and we're going to go out here and try to represent the USA the best way we know how.
Bryant made headlines when he criticized the notion of Team USA implementing an age limit. The future Hall of Famer said it would be stupid to keep players older than 23 years old off the team. David Stern has suggested that such a rule could be made.
The one aspect that many people seem to forget about the Olympics, or at least the foundation of the games, is that it is a competition amongst amateurs. Professionals should not be able to participate in the games.
Because of the millions of dollars that are invested in these athletes to play and perform for their respective teams, the course for injury sky rockets by playing this type of competitive basketball.
NBA players should simply not play for a sense of pride because in reality, what are they proving anyway?
America has, and will always have the greatest basketball players in the world. Winning another gold medal won't change a thing.