August 21, 2004

"...because Angola is playing even worse than the Americans, they're in the quarterfinals in the Athens games." : US loses 90-94 to Lithuania, but still gets a "they could suck worse" pass into the next round.

posted by lil_brown_bat to other at 05:32 PM - 10 comments

Not surprising- the USA team is sucking this year, a marketing gimmick that's about to become a laughing stock. It's not about coaching or cohesiveness, it's about talent. In 1992, all but a couple of those players were not just "good", they freakin' were living legends- Bird, Jordan, Johnson, Stockton & Malone, etc. When you have that level of talent, cohesive playing and 4 years of training together is not necessary. The best of the NBA are not playing this time around, with only a couple of exceptions, the result of which magnified the lack of playing time together. I certainly hope the ones who stayed home feel a little shame watching the US get beat, badly, in the sport we should, and have, owned. The US pulled a tortoise/hare this Olympics, assuming any random group of 12 NBA players would win the gold. Clearly not- the US has to either get the truly best for 2008, which would involve either inviting the NBA champs of that year (The Detroit Pistons in these Olympics? That would have been brutal), or assuring a real dream team of superstars with more time to practice together. The US may eventual have to abandon the NBA route altogether, and simply admit that taking 2nd and 3rd rate players (Lebron James? Carmelo Anthony? Sorry, they may be talented, but they're not even 20 yet!) from the NBA is worse than just going with a non-professional squad that plays with uniformity and familiarity.

posted by hincandenza at 12:45 AM on August 22, 2004

I have to laugh. Have you seen that LeBron James commercial, where he's draining 90 foot jump shots? Meanwhile, this team is like 16% from three point range, and that's the cheapy international three. Great timing.

posted by dzot at 11:35 AM on August 22, 2004

That brings up a good question... Why is the US 3pt shooting so bad?

posted by chmurray at 01:26 PM on August 22, 2004

Because the best-shooting player on the team was ranked 47th in the NBA in three point shooting last year. The team shoots badly because all the players on the team shoot badly, and have for their entire recent careers. [I do like the idea of sending the defending NBA champs, but there is no way the players union will allow requiring them to play yet more games after the 100+ games in a champ's season.]

posted by tieguy at 03:22 PM on August 22, 2004

When you have that level of talent, cohesive playing and 4 years of training together is not necessary.
How are they any worse off than many of the other teams? New Zealand, for example, fields a predominantly amatuer team with one full-time pro who can't get releases from his US NBA employer for most international games or practise for NZ.

posted by rodgerd at 04:15 PM on August 22, 2004

I wonder if Team USA's problems this year will start to appear for other international teams as the NBA gets more and more international. If the other basketball federations aren't careful, it's possible that in 4 or 8 years many of them will do the same thing as Team USA and throw together a group of players merely because they're in the NBA without regard to team chemistry and the specific needs of a team.

posted by gyc at 05:54 PM on August 22, 2004

rodgerd: How are they any worse off than many of the other teams? You misunderstand me, rodgerd. I'm saying that if you have the level of Jordan/Bird/Magic/et al, you can get by without training together as much. But if you have "the best-shooting player on the team [...] ranked 47th in the NBA in three point shooting" then you damn well better train more as a team unit- or get better players. New Zealand had one pro player who couldn't train regularly with his team? Doesn't that imply they had 11 who could? The reality is that these other teams have predominantly been playing together for some time now, and in previous championships, as a unit. gyc makes an interesting point- it's fundamentally an NBA issue the US is being beaten so bad, and should enough of the world population play basketball that the US no longer has virtually exclusive representation in the sport's top players, then other nations may experience the same problem of their "best" players not playing well as a team because of their commitment to play in the most exclusive league in the world. The NBA is not a "US" company, it is a global corporation with global aspirations. "Dream Team" was meant not to help the US dominate- it was doing that before 1992- but to be a marketing gimmick to increase interest in the game around the world. As it is already succeeding, the US "Dream Team" will increasingly not be as dominant as it was in 1992, and thus making the need for the US to make more of a regular team, that might or might not be comprised primarily of pro players. Likewise, other teams will find their best players go to the NBA, and thus aren't as fit to join the national team on a whim once every 4 years. However, this problem might ultimately sort itself out, if David Stern sees his dream turn real. In 4 or 8 years, what gyc describes may occur, but in 20 or more, we may find the NBA has become the WBA, and there are far more teams with home cities of Beijing, Berlin, or Barcelona. At that point, the NBA/WBA might find that while the Beijing team, in a free agent market, has a diverse nationality of players, that enough Chinese players exist in the WBA to form a team of all-pros for the Olympics, or even that the Beijing WBA team becomes the representatives for the Olympics- regardless of the nationality of its players. In either case, it rests on whether the WBA would grant scheduling freedom so that all teams, and thus all nations, could allow their best players to get the time to practice with their national team as well. If not, then the Olympics will in this scenario become all amateur again (or all minor-league, should the NBA/WBA ever get a proper farm system). Sorry for the verbosity, I was just free-associating there. :)

posted by hincandenza at 06:42 PM on August 22, 2004

Having flown to Beijing this Summer, I hope in twenty years the trip is easier... One of the major impediments to a global NBA is getting the players to travel. Or, at least, having a travel system that wouldn't be brutal.

posted by BobbyC at 08:48 PM on August 22, 2004

New Zealand had one pro player who couldn't train regularly with his team? Doesn't that imply they had 11 who could?
Not really - like I say, they're amatuers. They already have to beg their workplaces for leave so they can compete in the local competitions for the most part, then more leave for international fixtures, and the Olympics... So sure, if the magic money fairy were sprinkling them in money for nothing, more team cohesion (than the US) would be quite feasible. But it's not guaranteed.

posted by rodgerd at 11:33 PM on August 22, 2004

Interesting analysis of USA Basketball, etc. here.

posted by smithers at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2004

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