What transpired Tuesday night against Australia will go down as one of two
things: The night TEAM USA was exposed as a flawed, overconfident team, or the
night Team USA received a wake-up call.
Mark Sheridan, ESPN.com
While clearly an underrated team entering the Olympic tournament, the Australians - sans their lone NBA player Andrew Bogut - pushed the US in the final warm-up contest before everything becomes official. While it was the last game in preparation, once again this is the “Dream Team” we’re talking about here! Or at least it was…it seems many down south are yet willing to relinquish their claim to dominance of the round ball. Just ask the superpowers of any other sport that has gained worldwide popularity and I’m sure the response would be much the same – it’s not always easy to maintain that top seeding, and the results cannot be assumed every time out.
International Basketball today is a drastic contrast to the first few Games involving NBA players, where Basketball was a cakewalk for the Americans. Maybe those blowout strolls thru to the podium really was the worst possible scenario, an overinflating boost to the psyche of the American sports mind. It seems that it has certainly made it far more difficult for many US B-Ball fans to acknowledge the talent and credibility on the world stage of countries like Spain, Argentina, Greece, and a handful of former Yugoslavian States. Let alone fathom the idea that their NBA players may pack up and leave for teams in European Leagues, and potentially, the biggest fish of them all may even cross the pond to fresher (read: far more profitable) waters…
The game yesterday brought everything full circle, and the criticism was harsh for a meaningless victory, the last meaningless victory before everything becomes real. Possibly this was out of hope that if they’re grilled now, no arrogance will remain within the American squad when it comes down to the important contests. Possibly this was out of a refusal to accept nothing but the Gold, and reclaim the collective consciousness that the Americans rule the sport of Basketball with an iron fist. Possibly this was just calling out a squad that isn’t as great as its billing as they revealed some of their flaws on a night of horrific outside shooting and lackluster defense (lackluster really being a compliment in this case…).
An attention grabbing story before, during and after the Olympics for sure, the path that the USA Men’s Basketball team takes will be almost impossible to ignore. And as stories go I hope this one too ends in a “tragedy”, nothing severe but just another US stumble at the finish line – and not to see the team go down in flames, or to watch the Americans lose out on another Gold, not anything like that. But I want to see the loss so that maybe, just maybe, the world will gain another ounce of respect out on the floor.