|NBA teams reminded not to discourage international play|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 May 2007 10:43|
A memo dated May 2 was sent to all NBA clubs. According to a person familiar with the document, it read: ``This is a reminder that, under the NBA's agreement with FIBA, NBA teams are required to permit their players to play in certain major national-team competitions, provided that adequate insurance is obtained.
``These include the Olympics, world championships, continental championships (such as the European Championships), and relevant qualifying tournaments.''
That person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the memo.
Ginobili recently announced that he wouldn't play for Argentina, the defending Olympic champion, in this summer's regional Olympic qualifier in Las Vegas. He wrote on his Web site that San Antonio requested he skip the event, saying that coach Gregg Popovich gave ``rather understandable arguments.''
``We told him we didn't want him to go,'' Popovich said Friday after Spurs practice. ``Why would we want him to go?''
Popovich, who also coaches Ginobili's Argentine teammate, Fabricio Oberto, is aware of the policy and knows ultimately it's the player's call if he wants to participate.
``We don't have any power (that's) keeping him from going. In the end it's (the player's) decision,'' Popovich said. ``Our advice was not to go. We've got a huge investment in him.
``In Manu's case he's already won everything in the world. I think he's done his part way, way more than most others. We let him know that's how we felt.''
Argentina's Walter Herrmann also is sitting out the FIBA Americas tournament, and said last month that was the preference of the Charlotte Bobcats because he was injured in September coming out of the world championships.
``The club blamed the national team and advised me not to join them and to rest for a period,'' he told the Spanish-language newspaper Mi Gente.
NBA teams are prohibited from banning players' participation, and the league doesn't even want teams discouraging it.
``The NBA/FIBA agreement also provides that NBA teams may not take any steps that are intended to deter players from playing in such competitions,'' the memo said.
Other than for legitimate injury reasons, such as the expected surgeries this summer for Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Lamar Odom, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said he has yet to receive a call from an NBA team about a player's availability in his two years running the program.
``Are there conversations that might be going on between some owners, some management and their player, probably yes,'' Colangelo said. ``But it's another thing for someone to pick up a phone and tell me that. That's up to the individual player to make that decision.''
Colangelo acknowledged that players would feel more comfortable making the commitment to their national teams if their NBA clubs were behind them. He is awaiting word back on an invitation extended to Memphis forward Mike Miller, who Colangelo said, ``just wants to make sure that everyone is supportive.''
``If management is supportive, they're going to feel a lot better about it,'' Colangelo said.
AP freelance writer Tim Price in San Antonio contributed to this report.