Like the rest of you, I was more than a little shocked to hear that the US dropped an egg to Greece in the FIBA tournament (aka "You Want Sweaty and Hairy White Guys? We've Got'em!").
Of course, the immediate reaction is hyperbole about how the US is being passed by in the international game by Euros, Argentinians, etc., etc. My favorite quote, though, came not from a national scribe, but from some anonymous reader of espn.com:
Dale Hawker: Why has no one discussed Spain beating Argentina? This is a bigger upset. Greece was the Euro champs ,so beating the U.S. should not come as a surprise, as they have the experience and big bodies to do it. Argentina, on the other hand, was hyped as the best team in the tournament. They have the experience from the Olympics, the team cohesiveness as Ginobili et al, have been playing together for years and all the commentators had them beating the U.S. So why isn't the Argentina loss being scrutinized and discussed? Because according to American media outlets they were suppose to win, not the USA.
Um, Dale, because I'm guessing that Spaniards aren't spilling onto the streets and stopping traffic to celebrate their win the way the Greeks are. No matter how you slice it, knocking off the US is the ultimate goal of every team, especially when you throw in the political ramifications.
Anyways, the key issue in my mind is this: This team is not the best display of US talent by a long shot. What's that? You don't believe me? I'm an American apologist?
Well, linger on this: There were 12 Americans named to the 3 All-NBA teams at the end of last year. Guess how many of those 12 were in Japan. Go on, guess.
4. That's right, 4. Kobe, Shaq, Chauncey Billups, Duncan, Ben Wallace, Gilbert Arenas, Iverson, and Shawn Marion are all stateside right now, while Shane Battier continues to do his impersonation of an NBA player in Japan.
In my mind, the reason the US keeps losing is that their big men refuse to participate in these events because of the cumulative wear and tear on their bodies. If you honestly think that Wallace, Shaq, and Duncan wouldn't have made all the difference in the world, well, you're either a fool, or Greek.
You can have Baby Shaq, I'll take the definite article.