Monday, August 9, 2004

Our Olympic Basketball Team

Soon, the USA Men’s Basketball Team will play a game that matters.


You read that right….”USA Men’s Basketball Team” or “Team USA“. It hasn’t been called that since the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Over the past 3 Olympic Games [Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney] they were called “Dream Teams”. Well…this team isn’t a dream team anymore.

And it isn’t the USA’s fault. They had RSVPs from the NBA’s elite. Of course, most backed out at the last minute….leaving the team with many B-level stars. It was not long ago that the US Team was embarrassed in Indianapolis [yeah…our home country] with at 6th place finish in the World Championships. And that rallied the troops. Everyone was gonna be on that next team. Well, on paper…for a while…they were. Then people have other concerns and the team gets thinner.

I’d like to think that if the NBA’s best were on Team USA….you may be able to call it a Dream Team. Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Steve Francis joining Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Allen Iverson. Pretty nice team.

But the first 6 guys on that list aren’t there….so you have guys like Richard Jefferson, Amare Stoudamire and Carlos Boozer.

Not to mention, we have NO true center nor do we have a true point guard. The two most important positions in basketball….and we are weak in both areas.


Why does this team struggle?? Well, many reasons. First, we all know that the American players lack fundamentals….which is what Europe bases their games on. They move the ball around with passes. We try to break our defender down off the dribble. I mean, during the Tour…how many high-low passes have you seen from the Euro teams??? About a hundred??

Now, in my “Disappointment” section….I mentioned that we have our B-list stars out there. Those guys still are better than a team with Mehmet Okur and a bunch of nobodies. Talent-wise….our guys are superior. But they are a better team. That play as a team…together. Our team is set up like an All Star team. Just go out there and look pretty.

Well…these guys have played together for years. They went to that basketball camps as kids and learned the game together. It’s like a buddy of yours that you play alongside in a pickup game. Both of you know each others likes and tendencies.

Our ball movement is bad….and the outside shooting is worse. So teams sit in zones….which really hurts us. I’ve seen Richard Jefferson bricking up tons of 3s already.

One thing I’ve been proposing is making the US Olympic team up of players who were on teams that MISSED the playoffs….or were knocked out in the first round. Get the team selected in mid-May…then set a time in mid-June that they can start getting together and at least start practicing. Yeah, we’d miss out on Kobe and KG still….but we’d have some good talent still there and lots of time to get them on the same page. I mean, Iverson, James, Brand, Stoudamire, Marion, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Boozer all missed the playoffs. Guys like Anthony, Francis, Pierce, Marbury, Baron Davis and Michael Redd were all ousted in the 1st round. Get ‘em together earlier and have them start practicing.


Now…after I said all of that…realize that this is a GOOD THING that USA Basketball isn’t as dominant as it once was. The entire reason the Dream Team was established has been a rousing success. I mean…instead of seeing some 60 point killing….we now get a competitive game.

Sure….some of it has to do with the level of talent on the USA team. But there are many, many NBA players on these other countries’ teams that just weren’t there back in 1992. Really, only Marcilonus, Divac and Radja had any NBA experience. Then came Sabonis and Kukoc. Now….most Olympic teams have an NBA player on their team. But, you’d figure a team of 12 NBA players would fare better than a team with 1 or maybe 2.

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