Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gold.



Tomorrow, the popular sentiment will be that Team USA underwhelmed. That they didn't perform up to par. That they're nowhere near as good as the Dream Team. I'm begging you. Do not fall for this. Be better than that. Tonight they played an inspired Spanish team that had more NBA talent than any other, and that they already proved they can dominate by doing it earlier in play. Spain played with sheer unabashed heart, and had the right combination of events. Navarro is an all-world talent, Pau is a top 15 NBA talent, Fernandez is brilliant, and Rubio's going to be a top 5 pick next year. This is not a bad team. This is a great team. They're not inferior. Australia? Inferior. Russia? Inferior. Not Spain.

This team played the best in the world, in a time when the best in the world are actually comparable, and still beat everyone by double digits. They may not be as good as the Dream Team. But they deserve our love and respect for bringing us back the gold medal. They played together, they played with heart, they played with pride. And they deserve to be celebrated. Not jeered. Give them credit. It was one of the best games I've ever seen. And it makes me happy to be a sports fan that I got to see that, even if I had to stay up till 3:37 to see it.

USA.

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It was weird seeing Kobe, because I knew those weren't the shots we wanted, not the shots we needed. And yet I knew they were going in. That's Kobe. His gamble on the steal led to Howard getting posterized, but I can't blame him. If that had been Wade I wouldn't have minded, even though Wade's recovery is a little better right now, for whatever reason.

Speaking of Wade, how awkward was it for NBC? Desperately wanting to showcase LeBron and Kobe, they were forced to throw in Wade as a sideshow, like he's Michael Redd. The unlikely bench player. Not the NBA Finals MVP who is two years removed from being considered a top five player in the league. It's apparent that this won't be enough for him. He'll have to prove it again in two months. He's got two months to rest, recuperate, and keep working on rebuilding himself.

The 2.0 release is about to go stateside.
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Tayshaun Prince played well tonight. He's so underrated.

*giggle
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Navarro.

It breaks my heart that he's gone. I mean, I know I can watch Euroleague on the computer next year. But it's not the same. Look at him, Miami. Look at him, Atlanta. Look at him, Milwaukee. You could have that. The floater. The size. The speed. Yeah, he's got flaws. But he's also got explosive potential like few have. It's a serious flaw in the NBA system that we let this kid get away.

Goodbye, JCN. We hardly knew you.
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I never thought I'd care about an Olympic basketball team. The Dream Team wasn't compelling to me. You can't completely dominate to that degree before it gets boring. In basketball at least. But I got to love this team. Maybe because everyone dogged them for not beating everyone by 40 and for not shooting 60% from the arc. But I really got to love them, and somewhere in there I really started to identify with them as representing my country. It was in the interviews. It was different from the usual halftime interviews on TNT on a Thursday. There was a genuine pride and love you could see in their eyes. When Sager interviewed Kobe and Wade after the game, and after the interview they hugged and yelled at each other, it was genuine. The best in the world, celebrating a common goal achieved. And I was proud of them. For this moment, this one, brief moment in time, they're not monstrously paid superstars, they're not marketing tools, they're not images. They're real people, playing for the pride of their country. And tonight, they redeemed us in the eyes of the world.

Thanks, guys.
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Okay, back to making fun of Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson. We're in the lull for another month, then it's preseason.

 
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