You knew it was coming, and now that it's happened, everyone will know they
can do it, too: the
U.S. lost a game in the World Championship. Not Lithuania. Not Russia. Not
Yugoslavia. Not Brazil. Not even the underranked Australians. Argentina.
Not only that, the Argentines led the entire game, by as much as 20 points,
and did all this in the holy (hoops) land of Indiana.
Is nothing sacred?
It certainly underscores our contention that the NBA game is inferior - as
indeed the American game is in general - to the international game. Don't get us
wrong, the talent is in the NBA and always will be. But the people who
understand the game best, generally speaking, now play outside of the U.S.
Until we learn to move the ball, to kill with threes, to pass and space
efficiently, and to quit being gloryhounds for dunks and the like, we'll keep on
Actually, it's probably appropriate that we lost in Indiana. That's the
birthplace of John Wooden, and the state where Bob Knight coached brilliantly
for years until his inability to control himself made it impossible to continue
there. We can pretty much imagine what John Wooden would say about this
bunch, and we can just about guarantee that Knight would never have put up with
the pathetic effort his team gave tonight. George Karl, for all his
accomplishments, is going to get just reamed over this.
The U.S. can still win the gold, but they'll have to get serious for a
change. No more tripping, Paul Pierce. No more gloating on dunks, Baron Davis.
No more whining, Jermaine O' Neil. Congratulations to Argentina for playing the
game the way it is supposed to be played. Americans should take note, dammit.
Here's a suggestion: instead of taking an All-Star team, why not build the
core of a team around players from a school which has sent a lot of guys to the
league (while playing for the same coach)? In this case, basically, you'd be
talking about Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, or possibly Pitino's Kentucky
players. This would be a variation of Dean Smith's wise critique of
the1972 team - they didn't know each other and didn't know a system. If
you took a team with, say, Hill, Brand, Williams, Battier, Maggette and Dunleavy,
and then added players who could compliment the core and let their college coach
coach them, you'd be way ahead of the game - they'd know the system, they could
teach the other players, and the team would have an identity.
Roy Williams has sent enough guys out to do the same thing. Whatever. This
garbage basketball has got to stop. It's embarrassing. It's like being in
a race where you have the best car, the best motor, and are the only team with a
pit crew, and still losing.
Incidentally, the only other time an NBA group has lost was in 1992, when the U.S. Select team, a group of college players,
led by Bobby Hurley, knocked off the original dream team in a scrimmage.