......You know, that international basketball powerhouse Argentina, basically whooped up on a hastily assembled team of NBA talent, beating them 89-81 .
Not sure what to think about this. So I offer two opinions.
1.)Bill Simmons- (the Sports Guy from ESPN)- In this article, Simmons basically says it's all the NBA's fault for not putting together a decent enough team that could compete in international rules Basketball. His main points consist of the following-
How we ignored the three essentials for any successful international team ...
1. A pure point guard who can penetrate, create shots for teammates, make open threes and make good decisions in the open floor.
2. At least two pure shooters, ideally three.
3. Big guys who can bang down low, set picks, shoot threes and run the floor.
Now, I will agree that it appeared as though the NBA folks in charge of putting this debacle of a team together decided it was more important to introduce the future of the NBA in Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony to the world than it was to win a Gold Medal. But I can't blame them for that. That's what they do. Get more jerseys sold so you can build more skyboxes and demand higher ticket prices. It's called business. And on top of that, I don't believe that this team of NBA guys are picturing an Olympic Gold Medal as the pinnacle of their career. I don't blame them. Everyone who knows what travelling is knows that had Shaq, Kobe, Hamilton, Wallace, and Garnett been present at this years Olympics we wouldn't be having this debate. So we sent an inferior team to see if they could get it done. They got whooped. By Argentina for chrissakes.
On to the counter-argument..
2.) Jason Whitlock, (also an ESPN columnist-notice a trend here?) Whitlock argues in this column that "The criticism of USA Basketball is borderline racist, is definitely unsophisticated and exposes a lot of super patriots as hypocrites. Allen Iverson is wearing our jersey -- our red, white and blue -- and playing the game the way we taught him to play it."
Now, granted Jason thinks 99% of sports issues revolve around race, but that doesn't change his point on this subject. He makes a compelling analogy in the way that the Canadian Olympic Hockey team lost out to Russia's in the 70's in a sport they invented too. Basically the point comes down to this-
"You talk to people in Canada, and they'll tell you the (1972)Summit Series was like a national emergency," Morrow said. "It really shook the heart and soul of the Canadians. The skill portion of the game [hockey] is viewed as being superior by the Europeans," Morrow said. "But when it comes to character and heart and competing, it's still the Canadians and the American players. Just look at the top scorers in the NHL the last few years -- seven or eight out of 10 are European."
Doesn't that sound like Dirk Nowitzk vs. Ben Wallace?"
Basically, while the NBA has spent the last eight or so years trying to figure out how to stop Shaq, the rest of the world has been developing talent and basic skills to the point that every member of their teams can pass, shoot, and dribble. 6 foot 10 Argentinians burying three pointers at will. That's what happened.
You know what? I'm not disappointed in the NBA guys at all. They were overmatched from the beginning. I think its good for basketball that they lost. But don't forget this (and I gauruntee you that whoever wins the Gold and Silver is well aware of it)- none-I repeat- none of these international powerhouses would last a quarter against this years NBA championship team.
And each and every member of Argentina's squad (minus Dinobli who's already playing) would saw off their left ear with a rusty nail file to get a chance for a multi year deal in the NBA. Gold medal or no Gold Medal.
I didn't see Lance Armstrong competing in any bike races either, did you?
Didn't think so.