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Olympics & FIBA World Cup: One Man's Solution


Other than concurring that NBA owners have a legitimate beef regarding their players being involved in major tournaments every other offseason and the resultant increased risk of injury, I will leave aside all other Stern, Cuban, Colangelo, NBAPA concerns. Those arguments tend to dissolve in to deriding one side or the other over their level of greed and it does nothing to make for a quality tournament. In the end, I don't care who runs the next iteration of the tournament: FIBA, NBA, Sheik Al-I-love-basketball-almost-as-much-as-the-EPL.

Here's what I would suggest for said single major hoops championship tournament:

1. Make the Olympics an U-23 event. Logistics dictate that the Big O will never be able to field an extensive tournament truly focused on celebrating basketball.

2. Increase the FIBA World Cup to 32 teams.

3. Start off with 24 automatic qualifiers, objectively determined through FIBA rankings.

4. Have FIBA hold a qualifying tourney a month or two prior to the World Cup to determine the final 8 teams. Or have 8 two-legged, blind draw series or some such.

5. Hold World Cup. I would suggest 4 groups of 8, but you can do it other ways as well. Doesn't matter as long as you end up with a 16 team knockout.

6. Eight worst teams from World Cup are made to go to the qualifying tourney. The other 24 are auto-invited to next WC. For reference, here is the current Top 24 in FIBA:

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7. Rinse and repeat every 4 years, although I think shifting to every 3 years makes for a compelling concession to those who want to continue to have two important tourneys.

In addition, if I'm FIBA I would strongly encourage the regional outfits to cease the continental tournaments. Again, this would be another bone to placate worrying owners and serve to de-stress player offseasons. The 24 auto qualifiers also serve to severely reduce the number of qualifying tourneys held too often to place teams in this or that tourney.

As a basketball fan I want ONE tournament that is a glorious celebration of our truly international sport. Only soccer can claim more than what hoops has in the global sphere.

I also like that my qualification proposal eventually becomes less reliant on FIBA rankings. While necessary for the first tournament, after that your inclusion is based totally on on-court performance. Want to be included in the next tournament? Just don't be turrible.

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