Since the Dream Team launched international basketball into the moon, the heart and soul of American Olympic dominance has been on the hardwood. For 10 years, red, white and blue was spray painted over a 29.5 circumference and bounced around the court before it was able to dry. Football may be America’s bread and butter, but basketball was its Olympic meat and potatoes.
That was until it all spiraled into a pool of gasoline. In 2002 the US team competed and lost in the World Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. The team placed sixth in international competition, and it was the first time that an international team was able to defeat a US team composed of NBA players. As embarrassing as the loss was, the defeat was labeled a fluke and supporters pointed to the many NBA stars that declined to play.
But in 2004 Olympics “The Nightmare Team” took the court in Athens, Greece. Nine starters from the qualifying team declined to play, and the team brought home a bronze medal and cold, grey shame. American Olympic dominance on the court was officially cracked, and the its aura of invincibility shattered.
American basketball became and international symbol of American arrogance, and the whole world enjoyed watching the ground coming to kiss the yanks in the jaw.
An overhaul was needed to amputate the invading infection, and the entire program was revamped. Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski were placed as the heads of US Basketball, and the program started to ask participants to agree to a three-year commitment. Since the patch up, two gold medals have followed, and America seems poised to once again reign supreme in international play.
Yesterday U.S. basketball announced its potential roster of 20 NBA stars for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster is deep. Really deep. 20 players are in consideration to play but that number will be whittled down to a 12-man roster with alternates.
Here’s the pool: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyson Chandler, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Andre Iguodala.
Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge have also been added to that list.
Buzz is already worming its way through the Internet and people have started to throw the term “dream team” out there again. It seems like America finally has its hoops swagger back.
Here’s our 12-man roster:
Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Howard, Paul, Durant, Rose, Love, D. Williams, Melo, Chandler and Aldridge
With our starters being: Rose, Kobe, LeBron, Love and Howard.
Griffin, Gordon, Westbrook.
Chris Paul is trading his beads for a board, NOLA love for L.A. celebrities, and hurricanes for earthquakes and smog.
One of the best point guards in the league has been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Gordon, Minnesota’s draft pick, and Al-Farouq Aminu, and one of the worst franchises in all of sports has suddenly turned into a supernova.
Trade speculation about Paul destroyed twitter this past week. It was a huge story, and a little exhausting to try and follow. There were the dramatics of one of the league’s best players going somewhere else, people were buzzing about potential new super teams, and the league and its commissioner were only a few days away from drowning in a sea of conflict of interest stories.
But now everything has flipped. The Clippers have gone from being a promising up-and-coming team, to one that’s considered one of the best in the West. The commissioner is being applauded for making such a savvy trade, and a few hoop fans now physically tingle when the phrase alley-oop is mentioned.
So the only pertinent question that remains is: who’s the best player in L.A.?
We already know that the Clippers have already ushered in a new reign of terror at the Staples Center. They’ve already dethroned the Lakers in this initial media blitz, and it seems like a foregone conclusion that they’ll do the same on the court (unless the Lakers make a Dwight-sized move), but who’s the Staples best now? Kobe, Griffin or Paul?
Kobe is coming off one of his worst seasons as Kobe (Having his team swept from the playoffs). Griffin is only entering his second year in the league. And Paul wears a flak jacket on his knee. And let’s not forget that two of those players are now coached by Vinny Del Negro.
But Kobe is still Kobe (the greatest player since Jordan), and he’s had surgery and some extended time to heal thanks to the lockout. We think he has at least one more amazing season in him, and his motivation to win can never be quantified. If Kobe has his knees back, is there any debate that he’s not the best shooting guard in the league? (Dwyane Wade, “YES!”)
Griffin is the league’s most exciting player. His transition game is unstoppable. His athleticism allows him to jump out of the gym, and he’s a double-double machine. And all that was before he was paired with one of the best point guards in the league.
Paul is a general on the floor (much like Kobe). He’s one of the best passers in the league, he’s the best shooter of the three, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is simply not human for a guy that dominates the ball. And let’s not forget that Paul single-handedly took the Lakers to six games during their first-round matchup last year.
So who do we got? Kobe. Again, we don’t believe the Lakers are L.A.’s dominate team, but Kobe still has to be the best player in the city of angels. Kobe realizes that this is his last chance to be one of the league’s best, and a desperate Kobe reeks of Walter White, and we all know how that ended up for Gus. If he’s healthy this year, then we can’t picture Kobe not being one of the leagues best.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see any of these players (or all these players) in the MVP conversation this season, and we’ll have to come back to this debate again at some point during the season.
Regardless, we love the trade.