NEW YORK – The men’s basketball tournament at the postponed Tokyo Olympics could take place without America’s NBA stars, the league’s top official said late Friday.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told NBA.TV that, given its own coronavirus pandemic-induced delay, it was “unlikely” that the next league season would pause to allow players to represent their countries at the Games in Japan.
The NBA’s next league season is not expected to begin this year as planned. Silver said, after consultation with renowned US immunologist Anthony Fauci, that it would be better to wait until January to begin.
The regular season normally takes around six months to complete, with the play-offs then following. The Olympics, which had been scheduled for summer 2020, are now due to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
“It’s not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo,” Silver said. “But they require training camp, and then they require rest afterwards.”
Silver said that, even without NBA players, the US would still be able to field “a very competitive team.”
But he conceded that the move was a blow for other nations, whose talent pool is nowhere near that of America and much more rely on their NBA players.
“I am a bit worried about some of the international teams, because, as you know, some of their stars play in our league, and their absence would make a huge difference for those national teams,” he said.
NBA stars have represented the US since the Barcelona 1992 Games and have won six of the seven gold medals since then.