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.
Basketball is a sport of grace. Its appeal is a heated mixture of athleticism, speed and precision that reduces down into a team trying to find that natural symmetry of unison and brilliance.
Championship teams dig themselves into that niche. They aspire to be great together, and that aspiration translates to unselfish play, and more often than not, beautiful basketball.
The Bulls are striving to play at that level. To not only beat opponents but play past their respective talents and play as something greater than their individual parts.
And the Bulls keep pushing to that point.
Last night the Bulls scored 26 points in the first half. They scored 15 in the first quarter and they followed that up with 11 points in the second. It was ugly. The Bulls were flat and distracted. They didn’t play with any heart and their defense was porous. Again, it was ugly.
But despite all that, the Bulls won. It was U-G-L-Y, but the team showed something in that victory. They showed they could overcome adversity, they showed they could still push forward and keep drudging up that steep, gravel slope.
While it was a team victory, three individuals really won the game: Rose, Deng and Asik.
Rose was Rose. Taking lots of shots, hitting the big ones, pushing the ball up the floor, smoking guys on blow bys, creating the offense and somehow getting the win.
Deng was underrated again. Doing everything. Leading the break. Driving to the hoop. Being long. Ditching his blackhawk for the close crop we usually see, and hitting big shots.
Omer was big. He continues to grow into a beardless Viking. His shot blocking abilities and hustle don’t always translate to the boxscore, but I think he was the player of the game. Well, maybe tied with Rose.
The game was sloppy and disheartening at points, but it was more than satisfying to get a victory. And while it wasn’t that beautiful, championship style of play that everyone expects from the team, it was the kind of victory that will help get them there.
All it took was a handshake, a couple of winks, and a few manly pats on the rear to set everything straight. The NBA lockout is over, with the owners and players agreeing in principal to a handshake deal over the weekend. The news immediately set twitter aflame, and set the start of the season for Christmas day.
Getting a deal to play a shortened 66-game season is a huge victory, with the winners being the fans, businesses and moonlighters who rely on the NBA.
The long-awaited agreement features shorter contracts for players (Up to five years for a team re-signing its own player, and four years for that same player out on the open market), a one-time amnesty clause that allows each team to waive a player without having his salary count against the team’s cap, and looser restrictions for trades (Non-taxpaying teams can take back salaries worth up to 140 percent, while taxpayers are limited to 125 percent.).
The deal also bumps up the age restriction for players wanting to enter the draft to 20-years-old, and gives fans and NBA officials a chance to experience a shorter schedule (something NBA aficionados have been clamoring for).
It’s truly a beautiful thing, a Christmas triple-header all wrapped up with benjamins and bills. The games should be a three-headed monster showcasing the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks vs. the Boston Celtics and a Finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat (The Mavs will receive their championship rings in front of the Heat. SLAP). It’s Kobe vs. Rose, Carmelo and Amare vs. Rondo and three wheelchairs, and Dirk vs. the super friends.
My head is spinning just writing all that. We’ll get to see Kobe after his experimental German knee surgery (apparently he’s jumping out of the gym), and see if he has anything left in the tank to try and make one more run at tying Jordan and his 6 rings. (Had the season died, was there any one player who had more to lose?)
We’ll get to see Rose after an entire summer’s worth of constantly hearing about his “fraudulent” MVP win. How he choked when it mattered most, how he’s not even the best point guard in the league (let alone the MVP), how ESPN ranked him as the 8th best player in the league, and how he fell to the Heat.
We’ll get to get see Dirk put on a ring, Jason Kidd get beat up by his wife, and more of DeShawn Stevenson’s amazing neck tattoos.
And we’ll hopefully get to see the Heat lose, although Lebron and Wade look to be in midseason form after months of pickup games and Sean John fashion shows.
It’s going to be a Christmas wonderland, filled with spiked eggnog, hoops, and Heat hating.
Boom. Last week the owners and David Stern presented the players with an offer, which was sent to every NBA player (nba_proposal), with the hope that ALL the players would put that offer to a vote. The vote was instead put to 30 NBA player representatives who flatly rejected the league’s offer. The players are now looking to disband their union (so they can sue the league) and dump this fight onto the courts. And a decision could take weeks, months, seasons…
So apparently 30 players have the unified voice of 450 players, who have decided that litigation is the best way to get the “fair” deal that they’ve been looking for.
In comments made to espn.com, union executive director Billy Hunter said, “We’re prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA. That’s the best situation where players can get their due process.”
Give the players credit for showing some backbone, but do they really understand that they’re the ones who are going to get the brunt of all the criticism from this?
In an interview with espn.com, David Stern was “saddened” by the players’ choice,
“The chances of the season slipping away from us and the players losing that they have worked very hard to achieve … it’s really a tragedy,” Stern said.
The players are the faces of this entertainment product, and like it or not, they’re the ones who are going to be recognized for not making a deal.
I put blame on both parties. The news was shocking to me, and I really can’t believe that months of negotiations have fallen apart.
I also can’t believe that Kobe’s last season (where he’s still Kobe) might be in Italy, instead of competing for an NBA championship.
That I might have to watch Derrick Rose play in some inferior league in Europe or Asia.
That some NBA superstar will get hurt playing in some game that doesn’t matter.
That the Celtics will age too much during this time off and will melt back into Boston Garden’s parquet floor.
That the sport I love the most will be dominated by legal mumbo jumbo, instead of highlights, fat Baron Davis pictures, and scandalous Tony P. hook-ups.