The Men’s Basketball Team Lost in Athens?

I’m embarrassed a bit to say it, but good. Yeah, yeah, national pride, we must win more golds than China, blah, blah, blah, but ya know what? Good. A bunch of Games ago, the ISO decided that pro-players could play, and so we had the Dream Team. That first team walked away with the Gold, without breaking much of a sweat. They plowed over everybody. The world has changed, and they other countries have gotten better. Our players have changed too, but not for the better. I blame the NBA as a hole whole.

I can’t believe that I’ve been driven to cheer against my own home land, but it’s happened. I couldn’t help it. And it’s not like cheering for Iraq in Men’s soccer – our team didn’t get into the Athens game, so Americans are free to cheer for whoever they want – where they’re considered an underdog in every match and have done well so far. Americans often love the underdogs and I’d love to see them nick a medal before all is said and done.

No, this is different, because we have a team competing and they’re supposed to be the best in the world. I was sort of perplexed when I heard that Puerto Rico beat the US in the first game of the the first round. Then I saw some of the recaps and the stories about who was skipping practice and a bit of the pre-Games drama. Self-assured? Understatement. Arrogant is more accurate.

Are they really arrogant? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. On camera, they come across as arrogant, so that’s how they’re viewed, and that’s how I think of them. And I don’t like that they’re representing our country, that way – the USA has enough problems in the world already… we don’t need to add fuel to the fire overa basketball game. Another Dream Team? If they think so, they’re the ones dreaming. Their play has been stale, stiff, and looks forced. And I’m not that versed in basketball, so if I can that, it must be pretty bad.

During yesterday’s game against Lithuania, they looked like they were playing without any heart. They gave me the impression that they were there because they deserved to be and that they should be given the Gold because they bothered to show up. That they didn’t have to beat anyone to get it – we’re NBA stars and you’ll kiss our asses as we walk away with top honors by default. I was naive enough to think that the lost to Puerto Rico might have dulled down this self-centered impression… maybe it did in the locker room, but it hasn’t shown up on the court or in the media yet.

And then there was the running commentary on the game that made me tie all of this back into the NBA. Our team could barely shoot three pointers and is often ineffective with free throws. From what I heard during the broadcasts, this is normal, and mirrors the players normal performance. Normal. How can this be normal? You can make a case for the threes – those are hard to sink all the time, especially during a game. Not everyone has to be a good three-point shooter. The US team has one guy that can do it, judging by the play last night, and he was just off for the first half. Hell, when I caught up with the game it was Lithuania 5 – USA 1. One. One. Have you ever seen a 1 for a valid score in a basketball game? I haven’t. Obviously there was a foul and the guy only made one of two, but still. One.

So what about these foul shots? How in the world can you get a position with an NBA team and have less than a 50% success rate with free throws? Isn’t that a fundamental of the game? I’ve seen countless kids on playgrounds nail free throws with a better success rate! Doesn’t this equate to a baseball player that doesn’t know the order of the bases or something? And even if this is normal, how did they get on the Olympic team? If this is the best that the NBA can offer, shouldn’t we put some college kids in there and give it a whirl?

I also heard that China was pissy with Yao’s behavior when dealing with the Chinese national team. They issued a press release stating that they were upset with Yao’s bad temperament and that he was being controversial. They went on to say that they believe that he’s been corrupted by his time spent playing in the NBA…

The Chinese have a point and might not be wrong, after all.

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