Charles Barkley believes that NBA players like Kevin Durant should not be needed for Team USA to win Olympics basketball gold.
We’ve often heard that USA is the mecca of basketball, and there’s a good reason for that. Canadian James Naismith invented the sport on American soil, where it became a popular sport with rules.
The Olympics have featured basketball as one of the men’s competitions since 1936. Team USA has established a dominance like none other, winning all 7 editions of the women’s tournament.
They’ve only ever had 1 Olympics tournament with NBA players when they didn’t win the gold medal. This happened back in 2004, the middle of a lean streak for USA basketball on the world stage.
Kobe Bryant’s commitment to the national team then changed the order of things for good in 2006-07. They stuttered for a bit at the 2019 FIBA World Cup due to injury problems with the roster.
But Kevin Durant was able to win his 3rd straight gold medal in basketball this year at Tokyo. He led Team USA in stellar fashion till the end and was by far their best player.
Charles Barkley berated Team USA basketball for sending Kevin Durant with NBA players for Olympics
There was a time when Charles Barkley was under consideration for Team USA at the 1984 Olympics. He was eventually left off the team by coach Bobby Knight, but Chuck got to play with the Dream Teams again.
So it seems a bit hypocritical for him to suggest that NBA players shouldn’t make themselves available for their country. But that’s what he suggested in an interview with Graham Bensinger a few years ago:
“You know Graham, we don’t have to win the Olympics all the time. We don’t have to send Kevin Durant for this thing.”
“See now, what I think they’re doing now is, they’re making them play too much. This thing is the World Cup, then next year we have the World Championships, and then we have the Olympics?”
“They can’t make these guys play all the time! They just played an NBA season, some of them went deep in the playoffs. Why do we have to send our best players out?”
“We proved that we are the best team, best basketball country in the world. Let some of the young guys play. First of all, they need to experience the game, they’re not ready for the NBA. Why don’t we let them play now, play next summer?”