August 27, 2004

NBA Olympians fall flat, lose to Argentina 89-81

Nobody in their right mind (at least on THIS side of the pond) thought the US basketball team was serious about winning this year.

The team, who had been beaten even before they left the States, didn't look like they were serious on the floor in any of their wins.

The team didn't play as a cohesive unit -- they were a team of "stars" who didn't know how to play together. Their defensive skills were pathetic at best. Their "holier-than-thou" attitude off the court didn't help much either. They refused to stay in the Olympic Village, opting to stay in the Athens Harbor aboard the Queen Mary 2.

And ultimately, they were outplayed by a better team in Argentina.

Argentina, with almost the same roster that made history in 2002 by becoming the first team to defeat a U.S. squad of NBA players, will compete for the gold medal against the winner of Friday's late game between Lithuania and Italy.

The Argentines were the better passers, shooters and defenders. They confronted the Americans with a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses, and confounded them with an assortment of back picks that turned the start of the second half into a layup drill.

The Americans shot just 36 percent in the first half and didn't hit their first 3-pointer -- missing their first five -- until LeBron James made one 30 seconds before halftime.

Like I said. They got outplayed and outclassed by a better team.

Message to the NBA players: Take a lesson from the USA women. They are hungry, they know how to play as a team, and they understand the significance of The Games. You obviously don't.

Message to the USOC: Go back to collegiate players -- they are hungry, and are able to play ball with the rest of the world without turning their game into a joke.

Message to NBA Commissioner David Stern (who was at the game): Congratulations. You've turned the US national basketball team into a joke and laughing stock.

Posted by mhking at August 27, 2004 03:37 PM

Amen to that.

How terribly disappointing.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 27, 2004 04:45 PM

Stay with the pros because it would be worst with college players, this is just a bump in the road and i did not know it was required to stay in the village to play basketball.

Posted by: dex at August 27, 2004 05:09 PM

Good sportsmanship isn't necessarily required to play basketball, either. What's your point? Mike's point was that the US team consists of a bunch of over-paid idiots who are so spoiled and egocentric that the Olympic Village was beneath them.

Posted by: skh at August 27, 2004 06:14 PM

my point is that i did not know it was a crime to be rich nor licking someone butt was in order to play the game, and on top of that iam quite sure other pros lived somewhere else. it bugs the hell out of me when all of these other standards apply to pros ie you know how much they make and ect to me this is class warfare at the cheapest.

Posted by: dex at August 27, 2004 06:48 PM

The comments directed towards the U.S. team are troubling.

The comments concerning the composition of the team are accurate. The comments about their boorish behavior is accurate.

But people in the U.S. rooting against the U.S. team seems to be a bit much.

Posted by: DarkStar at August 27, 2004 09:09 PM

DS, I have that same reaction when I hear people rooting against America in fields of much more important endeavor -- like Michael Moore claiming the Iraqi "resistance" are true revolutionaries who should and will defeat us.

Personally, I think rooting against your own team in sports is far more benign.

Posted by: McGehee at August 28, 2004 09:21 AM

I agree, the composition of the team wasn't sufficient. You really only had one big man (Tim) and you had a bunch of slashers, as opposed to pure point guards and spot up shooters. Add that to the fact that many of the guys are younger, and you only have about three weeks of practice and that is the recipe for success.

Do you really think if Shaq, Kobe, Garnette, Tracy McGrady, & Jason Kid were playing that the games would have been even close?

Do you really think that if they had a solid three months of practice to learn and understand the international game, that even this team would have had a problem winning the Gold?

I think the context of the loss must be looked at and evaluated, with decisions made on how to achieve a more unified time through longer practice periods.

Posted by: hirez at August 28, 2004 09:48 AM

Thank you hirez for a fact based response based on the realities of the game.

However i do believe that the subtle politics of race in america are, unfortunately, also at play.

The unnecessary impuning of the character of the bball players was echoed in a number of similar situations…

…in commentators criticism of Crawford and Gatlins’s mini celebration after winning their prelim race... characterization of the australian women’s conduct after losing to the us women as a demonstration of their "good sportsmanship" rather than disrespectful upstaging in line with the spirit of "trash talking" engaged in leading up to the game... Bob Costa's sharing that the signature moment for track and field competition was in El Guerrouj’s not again beaten by superior performers, ignoring US athletes delivering a performance that represented the greatest dominance by any track&field team in the history of the competition...

At some point i hope we not only take the time to dialog with each other, but that we also take the time to direct no knee jerk collective responses to NBC. Perhaps in doing so we can shed light on a history of subtle character assassination that not so subtlety keeps us divided along lines of race.

Posted by: RhesaJ at August 29, 2004 12:42 PM

You can be "quite sure that other pros lived somewhere else" all you wish, but I've heard no evidence to support that. OTOH, my point was that their behavior is analogous to visiting good friends or family, receiving an invitation to stay with them at their house, and snidely refusing to do so. [IMO, their insistence on staying aboard the QE amounts to an extra-large "FU, your digs aren't up to snuff for us high-rollers!"] Sportsmanship embraces more than just a players on-court actions. American basketball players are aberrant in a crimal sense when compared to all other American sporting endeavors. That evidence shouldn't be difficult to find, and I'll look for it this afternoon. I don't possess an eidetic memory, but I have seen the damning statistics on this sub-culture.

Posted by: skh at August 30, 2004 04:09 PM
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