Thursday, August 05, 2004

USA not okay 

You know this US basketball team? The one filled with third tier NBA stars? The one that promised gold in Athens? They suck. Long gone are the days of 1992 and the greatest team ever assembled in probably any sport ever; the only team actually worthy of the monacher "Dream Team."

So the US is making the rounds on their pre-Olympic warm-up tour. They start off the European leg by getting pasted 95-78 against an unheralded Italian side. It's the worst defeat in US basketball history since they started loading the team with NBA stars. The Italians, for the record, have no NBA players on their Olympic team. This sort of drubbing is just embarrassing. Co-captain Allen Iverson (the fact that he's a captain is laughable. Aside from his seniority, he is NOT a leader of men and quite easily one of the most immature players in the league) called the loss to Italy a "wake up call." Some wake up. How do they follow that disgraceful performance? A last second shot to beat Germany -- a nation that didn't even qualify for Athens.

You wouldn't know it from the US reaction, though. Did you see their over-the-top celebration after Iverson hit that shot?! It's like they just won the fucking Olympics! But all they actually accomplished was barely squeaking past a team that has no plans to be in Athens in a meaningless exhibition! This team is so fucked. They're incredibly thin at the power positions, have no pure shooters to break down zone defenses, and they can't play consistent defense. More over, they're just plain young. Save for Tim Duncan, no one on the roster has the mentality for international basketball. Maybe they're just sluggish from the travel and the fact that they've only been together for a little over a week, but I tell you the disasters of the 2002 World Championships were no fluke. This team has a looooooooong way to go if Carmelo Anthony's promise of gold is going to come true. Frankly, at this point, I don't see it happening. Especially now that the rest of the world has narrowed the gap in talent that the US once proudly held.

It's a shame, too. The US undoubtedly has the largest talent pool to choose from when it comes to hoops. But whether it be fatigue, lack of security, being on trial, or just plain lack of enthusiasm, all of the NBA's elite declined invitations to play. Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson are the only two original selections still on the squad. Of course, if this team has Shaqille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd, etc, etc, etc, there's no question they'd be gold medal bound. But they don't and instead are forced to trot out some poor excuse for an NBA all-star squad. Very sad.

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