Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat) and Ray Allen (Boston Celtics) were former Olympians and gold medalists who believed that NBA players should be paid for playing in the Olympics. Allen said the Dream Team and the 1996 USA Basketball Team in Atlanta were paid for winning the gold, and raises the question, do NBA players ger paid for the Olympics?
No, the International Olympic Committee does not award prize money for the Olympic Games, but medals. The organization shoulders athletes’ and officials’ food, accommodation, and transportation.
The Olympic Games are about representing the country and the people who live in it. Olympians wear the colors of their country and not just green. Competition is fierce and you must contend with the best athletes who have trained hard.
Nevertheless, there are ways NBA athletes can earn money.
Are NBA Players Allowed to Play in the Olympics?
It rarely happens that professional and amateur sports work together, and when they do things become exciting. NBA players were allowed to play alongside amateur basketeers to put on a great show on the Olympic stage.
However, this was not always the case. In 1988, professional athletes were allowed to represent their countries except for NBA players. Through the efforts of FIBA Secretary-General Boris Stankovic, the gates were opened, allowing NBA players in the Olympics in 1992.
Since then, Team USA has dominated the competition losing once to Argentina in the 2004 Athens Olympics and winning seven times.
1992 Dream Team
Team USA grabbed the opportunity when the Olympics committee allowed NBA athletes to play by assembling the most talented NBA players ever. The face of the team was “His Airness” Michael Jordan, backed by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and other superstars.
The Dream Team was too dominant with an average winning margin of 43.8 on their way to the gold medal, with Croatia eating their dust with a 32-point walkover.
Except for Christan Laettner, every team member was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.
The Dream Team’s accomplishment will be hard to match and will be etched in basketball history as the greatest team.
2008 Redeem Team
After Team USA’s loss to Argentina in the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States gathered the most dominant players in the NBA to claim redemption. The team was composed of a new wave of stars with “King James” LeBron at the helm, supported by the “Black Mamba” Bryant, Dwayne Wayde, and other notable stars.
The Redeem Team beat Spain for the gold reasserting USA’s supremacy in the basketball world.
Do NBA Players Get Paid to Play in the Olympics?
The Olympics is about showing love for a country and flag and the people who live in it. Many athletes compete in the Olympic trials but only a few make it. Those who succeed earn the distinction of being called Olympians and the honor of representing their country.
It is gratifying to be in the company of people who are proud to carry their country’s flag, like the lone athlete from Algeria in the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the lone skier from Pakistan in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
That said, NBA players do not get paid for their participation in the Olympics, but some countries’ Olympic organizations reward athletes who reach the podium. In the United States a gold medalist receives $35,000, a silver medalist is rewarded with $22,500, and a bronze medal is worth $15,000.
The Olympic Committee provides for the board, lodging, and transportation of athletes and officials. Individual athletes or teams can sign corporate sponsorship or endorsement deals to earn money. Big- name shoe companies would love to have their brand represented by the basketball team from the USA.
How Much Do Olympian Athletes Typically Earn?
Olympians do not receive a single cent from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or a fixed salary. They must fund themselves through other means.
There are no fixed earnings for an Olympian; it could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars or much less based on performance. Many athletes must find a job to support their needs.
Home Depot employed Olympic athletes to work on a flexi-time schedule part-time. Athletes earn $25,000 for working 1000 hours annually.
Unfortunately, Home Depot dropped out of the sponsorship program in 2009 due to a decline in sales and earnings from the housing slump. While at it, the company employed 600 athletes paying salaries between $15 million to $20 million over four years.
General Motors Corp quit sponsorship in 2007.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) rewards medalists with $37,500 for each gold, $22,500 for every silver, and $15,000 for each bronze. The United States Paralympic Committee (USPOC) provides incentives of $7,500 for each gold, $5,250 for every silver, and $3,750 for each silver.
The USPOC provide stipends to athletes; the size depends on their performance and sports discipline. Speed skater Mitchell Whitmore came first in the 500m and fourth in the 1000m at the 2009 World Junior Speedskating Championships in Poland. For his feat, Whitmore was compensated with a nine-month stipend for his training and living expenses for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Singapore rewards their Olympic gold winners with $737 thousand, and their bronze medalist earns over 12 times more than his U.S. counterpart. Taiwan is not far behind with $720 thousand for a gold medal. Malaysia rewards its sports heroes with a lifetime monthly salary of $1,182 for gold, $709 for silver, and $473 for gold.
Shaun White is acknowledged as the GOAT snowboarder, winning three Olympic gold medals and numerous X Games titles. It’s no surprise that White gets the biggest endorsement deals with about $2 million from Red Bull, Hewlett-Packard, Target, Oakley, and Ubisoft.
Japanese Naomi Osaka, considered the new face of tennis, was ranked the second-best tennister in the world but lost in the third round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Osaka earns about $55 million in endorsements from sponsors Google, Louis Vuitton, and Levi’s.
Who are Some NBA Players Who Play in the Olympics?
Basketball told more exciting stories, with NBA players taking the floor in the Olympic games. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Men’s Basketball Tournament is loaded with 49 current NBA players.
At least one NBA player represented 11 of the 12 countries participating, Iran is the only team without one. Moreover, there were 27 NBA teams out of the 30, with at least one player represented in the Tokyo meet.
Of course, the United States has a full roster of 12 NBA players led by head coach Gregg Popovich.
The second honor went to Nigeria, eight NBA players wearing their country’s colors. Team Nigeria defeated the USA in a tune-up game before the Tokyo Olympics.
Close on their heels are Australia (7) and France (6), followed by Spain, Italy, and Argentina with three NBA players; Slovenia, Japan, and Germany with two each onboard; and the Czech Republic has one.
Team France gave the all-pro USA squad a run for their money by beating them in the preliminary round. The story continued in the finals; it was mano-a-mano, with neither team giving an inch until the Americans edged the French nationals 87-82. Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier from the Boston Celtics led the French team to score 16 points apiece. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets scored 29 points and sealed the win by canning two free throws in the last seconds.
The team from Down Under finally bagged a bronze medal with a 107-93 over Slovenia. The Boomers finished a series of fourth place windups in 1988 Seoul, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2016 Rio before ending the drought in Tokyo. Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs injected his determination and skill into the game with a huge 42-point performance defeating Olympic debutant Slovenia and Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
Wrapping Things Up: Do NBA Players Get Paid for the Olympics?
It’s common knowledge that superstars in the NBA earn a fortune from playing in the league. But when duty calls and their country need their service, the NBA players in the Olympics sacrifice their pay.
The Olympics is an opportunity to represent their country and showcase the stuff they’re made of on the greatest world stage of sports. Money or the number and name at the back of the jersey are replaced by the colors and the letters of the country they represent.
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