The FIFA World Cup is over, the FIBA World Cup is seven weeks away. Whereas the former near guaranteed shocks and surprises, Basketball fans can only hope we avoid a predictable tournament in Spain.
The FIBA World Cup of Basketball has tremendous potential but it’s hard not to be a little worried. Player drop outs keep leaking out as the off-season staggers along. Save for Spain and Lithuania, because it’s Lithuania, and a handful of others it’s hard to guarantee teams will bring their strongest possible rosters. International hoops, while adored by fans, simply doesn’t get the commitment of its soccer counterpart.
Team USA’s provisional roster is a good indicator of how much of an opt-in event this is for stars. Kevin Durant, the reigning NBA MVP, is there, so too are Derrick Rose and James Harden but after that the top names have opted out without much consternation. A NBA contract, the NBA season, is just that much further ahead in the order of priorities. Part of Rose’s motivation for playing indeed is to get some real game-time to get his career back on track next season. This is far from a NBA problem. It’s not the NBA’s fault that it is, by a considerable distance, the top priority for players. That’s on FIBA and the national federations.