Preposterous Universe

Sunday, August 29, 2004
USA Basketball

I remember, back in 1992 when the Dream Team of NBA stars first participated in the Olympics, someone telling me with a straight face that the US would never lose a basketball game in international competition again. Why not? Because basketball is a black person's sport, and the Europeans and South Americans just couldn't compete athletically.

Someone forgot to tell the Argentinians and Italians, as the former beat the latter for the gold medal yesterday. The US managed to squeak by a small former Soviet republic to claim the bronze. The team played hard, but was under-prepared and put together badly for this kind of competition, with a bunch of swingmen who can drive to the basket and a significant lack of big men and outside shooters.

Who comes out of the fiasco looking the best, from the US side? None other than poster boy for selfishness Allen Iverson.

To the Shaqs and Garnetts and T-Macs and Ray Allens who had better things to do than protect their homegrown game, Iverson said: "They have to understand that, first and foremost, it's an honor to be selected on this team. It's something that you should cherish for the rest of your life, and honestly, it's something I will cherish without winning the gold medal.

"I feel good about taking part in something like this. I feel like a special basketball player to be selected to a team like this."

To his former coach in Philly, Brown, who complained about the only-in-America rush job needed to field an Olympic team when he wasn't busy ripping his players and the USA Basketball selection committee that picked them, Iverson said: "I don't want to make (the rush job) an excuse. I think the time that we had, it was already known that that's how much time we were going to have. And we had to understand from the first day that that was the amount of time we had to prepare."

Like Lindsay, I don't really care that much about the Olympics. But it was sad to hear that the US team went from being worshipped a decade ago to being booed off the court this year. Of course, that might have something to do with issues other than basketball.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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