The recent loss this week by the United States Basketball Team in the semifinals of the World Basketball Championship hits a grim reality. We are no longer the best country at basketball. [related article]
Greece bumped the US Team (filled with NBA players) out of gold medal contention… Greece having only a single NBA player on its roster. This feels just like the 2004 Summer Olympics where the US got bumped from the gold medal round by Spain (I think). Geez… in the 2004 Summer Olympics we couldn’t even beat Puerto Rico, one of our own territories?!
Face it… United States basketball, embodied by the NBA, has become a spectacle… a spectacular exposition of attitude and showiness performed by grown, whiny children. We care more about dunks and 3-pointers than any of the fundamentals of the sport. Our fast-food entertainment culture desires the flash and sizzle of hard drives to the hoop and aerial acrobatics… not the mundane execution of 12-foot pullup jumpers and dependable foul shots. The NBA suits, knowing flash equals cash, restrain their own refs from calling the two-step rule on the big “playmakers” as they take 3-and-a-half steps to the hoop. Hey, if the crowds sing then the registers ring – somebody show me the money.
But alas… this perverted form of basketball encounters the truly objective challenge in the face of international competition. Are the NBA tricksters the best? Are the US court magicians superior? Nope. It turns out that a basket made from a 15-foot jump shot is worth the same as one made in a spectacular alley-oop. Without the Figure Skating judges giving points for “Artistic impression” the US style of flash over substance gives no advantage… and is possibly a disadvantage.
Things weren’t always like this. Remember the 1992 Summer Olympics? Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and the rest. We utterly cremed the opposition. But these players listed were the best. They had the fundamentals of the sport down cold. They knew (even and especially Jordan) that flash was great, but it was SECONDARY to getting the basketball in the basket. People like to say that today’s players are the best there ever were. *cough* What?! I think not… just look at how they do against other countries whose teams aren’t filled with cash-pumped players and whose people would rather watch soccer.
Now you may also say, “Hey, this is all because so many of today’s NBA All-stars refuse to play in non-cash events.” It is true that today some all-stars duck out of representing their country in international competition (which is a blog post for another time), but that is only a further testament to their selfish, glitzy mentality… and probably reveals a deep fear of being embarassed by teams they outwardly perceive to be inferior. Do you really think that these results would be any different if there were different US players there? Not in today’s NBA. We’d be better off using our college team all-stars.
Here’s an excerpt from the article linked at the top:
As they warmed up before Friday’s semifinal against Greece, the U.S. players put on a jam session for the fans.
Dwight Howard dunked emphatically. Dwyane Wade bounced the ball off the backboard, caught it and stuffed. Elton Brand jammed an alley-oop pass. Finally, LeBron James flew down the lane for a tomahawk.
As the crowd roared, the Greeks lined up at the other end and shot free throws. The moment foretold Greece’s 101-95 victory in the semifinals of the world championships.
The U.S. has dazzling skill; the Greeks are a dazzling team.
“We have to learn the international game better,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We learned a lot today because we played a team that plays amazing basketball and plays together.”
[emphasis added by Negative99.com]
You have to learn the international game better?!? If that means you have to learn how to score more points than the other team, then YES, you’re right. Bless my soul, though, but I thought scoring more points was the key to American basketball as well.
This is why myself, and a growing number of others, don’t watch the NBA. How long until March Madness 2007?