If you have ever played competitive sports on a team that was better than its competition, then I am almost certain there was a coach on your team that did whatever he or she could do to create a sense of doubt. I was fortunate enough to play on some athletic teams that played against competition that my teammates and I knew we were going to beat. The coach’s job was to humble us as much as possible even if the coach knew that his or her team would basically have to no show in order to lose. I don’t have access to the 2012 Men’s Olympic USA Basketball team but I don’t think it takes an insider to provide us with scoop that this team has little doubt about bringing home another gold medal home from London. There’s a good chance that Olympic officials have already engraved the names of each US player on the gold medals to be handed in a couple of weeks. Coach K has one job. Which is to, once again, keep a team of basketball gods humble.
I will admit that I had my doubts. In the months and weeks leading up to the training camp for Team USA, there were a number of significant names that had to be removed from the roster. Guys like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Dwight Howard having to bow out due to injuries was enough to prevent me from giving this year’s squad the guarantee that there would be no roadblocks to the gold medal podium. The lack of depth at the big man position was appearing to be the chink in the armor the rest of the world needed to pull off an upset. It appeared in the exhibition games against Brazil and Argentina that the lack of size could present a problem. Those games were relatively close and for the most part fairly competitive. At least, that’s what it looked like on TV.
The real test came this past Tuesday against Spain. The stars, sun, and moon seemed aligned for the Spaniards. The game was to be played on their turf and with the style of play that players like Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, and Pau Gasol were bred to play. Oh, and Spain just so happened to acquire an African-born, man-child who is making a name for himself in the NBA (Serge Ibaka) through some type of quasi dual citizenship/free agent type of transaction. I realize that Chris Kaman did this with the German National team, but I am still not sure that dude is even from the planet earth. So I made the claim to some of my NBA cronies that it would not surprise me in the least if the Spaniards would to pull off an upset against the US, even without Marc Gasol playing. Early in the game it certainly appeared that was going to be the case. Spain had jumped out to a double digit lead. The Spanish team looked more in sync and most importantly looked to have an advantage due to the sheer size of the big men. But then something happened in that game that pretty much eliminated all doubt. The US Team has LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony on their team and Spain didn’t. Now throw in Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul in the mix and forget about it. Oh wait, that’s not enough? Here…Play with this Black Mamba and let me know how things go. In a blink of an eye the US cruised past the slower, less athletic Spanish team for a seemingly easy 22 point victory.
The concern of not being able to match up with all of the talented big men the US Team will face in the Olympics is hogwash. The reason that Jerry Colangelo didn’t beg a guy like Andrew Bynum to play was because they don’t have to. Why worry about how to match up against big guys when the other team’s big guys can’t match up with you?
So that’s it. The only thing beating this US National team is if this US National team simply doesn’t show up for the game…Like literally gets lost on the way to gym and doesn’t make it to the game. There are simply too many players on this US National team that are immensely gifted and, more importantly, UBER competitive. These guys despise losing, especially to lesser teams. There have been concerns about their slow starts. Who cares?!?! So they need a quarter to get motivated. When you have about 8-9 guys on this roster who have been born with the ability to go on 12-18 point run single handedly, then nitpicking about slows starts is exactly what it is…nitpicking.
Am I guaranteeing the gold medal for our US Men’s National Team? You bet your sweet American ass I am!
USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!