2012 Olympics | July 27 - August 12
Posted: Thursday August 9, 2012 11:37AM ; Updated: Thursday August 9, 2012 6:36PM
Ian Thomsen
Ian Thomsen>INSIDE BASKETBALL

Source: Men's basketball age limit 'unlikely' for 2016 Olympics

Story Highlights

A source with knowledge of talks said age limit is 'unlikely' to be instituted by 2016

David Stern has expressed support for an age limit, similar to Olympic soccer

NBA isn't backing away from idea, but new target is likely 2020 Summer Games

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LeBron James
Without an age limit, LeBron James, 27, would be eligible to play at the Rio Olympics in '16.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

LONDON -- These Olympics are not expected to bring an immediate end to the "Dream Team'' era of men's basketball, a source told SI.com on Thursday.

The NBA's interest in pursuing an age ceiling for Olympic basketball is "unlikely'' to be instituted in time for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to the source, who has direct knowledge of the talks involving the International Olympic Committee and FIBA, the international ruling body for basketball.

NBA commissioner David Stern has publicly floated the idea of establishing a maximum age for men's basketball players of all countries at future Olympics that would mirror the rules of soccer, which requires that players in the Olympic tournament be no older than 23, with three exceptions (for players of any age) allowed per roster. The new plan for basketball would enable NBA owners to participate in and eventually profit from the rebranded FIBA World Cup, which -- similar to the soccer World Cup -- would have no limits on age, making it the preeminent international basketball event every four years.

It had been assumed that the new rule would take effect in 2016, which would have made these Olympics the last to feature teams led by the biggest NBA stars. The upcoming Olympic final four of the U.S. vs. Argentina and Spain vs. Russia -- which will conclude with the gold-medal final Sunday -- was being viewed as the likely culmination of the highly successful era that began with the original Dream Team's appearance at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

But the source stressed that quick action on an age limitation is highly unrealistic for FIBA. Passage of the new rule will require the ratification of 213 national basketball federations around the world -- the sporting equivalent of the United Nations. The involvement of the IOC will further complicate the talks.

This will come as good news to stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and other NBA players who have indicated they would like to continue to play in the Olympics. The only member of the U.S. team older than 29 is 33-year-old Kobe Bryant, which means that 11 current stars could represent the U.S. in 2016.

Though the new strategy will require patient and methodical negotiations, the source said the NBA has shown no sign of backing away from its ultimate goal of investing in the World Cup.

In short, a target for the new Olympic age ceiling would be the 2020 Games -- depending on whether the NBA can round up the necessary support within FIBA and the IOC over the years to come.

Another issue facing USA Basketball is the identity of its next coach, with 65-year-old Mike Krzyzewski expected to step down after the current Olympics. Overseeing that choice will be Jerry Colangelo, who has restored the men's program of USA Basketball to dominance since he became managing director in 2005. Colangelo, 72, said he intends to preside through the next Olympics.

"I want one more run,'' Colangelo told SI.com.

Asked if that meant he would continue to represent USA Basketball for another four years, Colangelo said, "Yes, I think so.''

 
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