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A New Game Plan for Team USA
September 11, 2006 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I have a plan that will save USA Basketball.
"these are the very kids who could save American basketball. ...Now, am I 100 percent sure this is feasible (or even legal)? No. But do you have a better idea? Because what we're doing now certainly isn't the answer."
posted by thisisdrew (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Good luck finding 15 kids good enough for this job who don't, to the man, think that they could play in the NBA instead of sequestering themselves in Colorado. Good luck preventing NBA scouts from approaching these kids and luring them away. Furthermore, USA basketball would never allow it - talk about a conflict of interest. The fans would be up in arms, too.

This is part of the problem, not just in basketball but soccer, hockey, cycling and any other professional sport which has found its way into the Olympics. The athletes (in general) care more about their professional team than they do the Olympics - for good reason, too. They're already competing against the best every day. Going to the Olympics is, ironically, a step down in terms of quality of competition.

What they need, simply, is for the best players to play together more beforehand. They don't need to be joined at the hip for years beforehand either - just long enough to learn the plays and learn how to read their own guys. This doesn't take long. They went a little too far in expecting their pros to be able to play together cold, but if there's one team sport which can get away with individuals over team it's basketball (OK, baseball is an exception).
posted by jimmythefish at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2006


(5) There are many, many high school basketball players who have the potential to play professional basketball but really have no business attending college.

Bullshit. Everyone can benefit from going to college, especially under-priveledged, inner-city youths. He means many NBA prospects have 'no business attending large, impersonal, major-conference basketball schools at which the players' academic, personal, moral, and social development will be secondary priorities - if they are indeed prioritized at all - to their basketball development.'
posted by ChasFile at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2006


We are losing because we don’t have a team like this anymore, and probably never will again.

On an unrelated note, I also disagree with this...
Being famous at the age of 18 is better than being a millionaire when you're 28.
posted by banished at 10:52 AM on September 11, 2006


It's pretty hilarious that Klosterman suggests John Chaney to lead these young men. Maybe he can have one of them break the arm of the opposing teams' best player, or he could threaten to kill the opposing coach. USA!
posted by Kwine at 10:58 AM on September 11, 2006


The Chuck Klosterman Opinion Generator. (Via Gawker).
posted by Iridic at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


jimmythefish, he's talking about taking kids that aren't able to enter the NBA, as they aren't yet 20. So it would be an additional avenue to the NBA instead of playing college ball. Seems like a good enough idea.
posted by team lowkey at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2006


Everyone can benefit from going to college, especially under-priveledged, inner-city youths.

This sounds really naive to me.
posted by mattbucher at 11:00 AM on September 11, 2006


world competition has obviously upped its game. Good point. I wonder how the original Dream Team would fare. Didn't they have Larry Bird too? They'd OWN Greece.
posted by thisisdrew at 11:01 AM on September 11, 2006


team lowkey,

that's a tight window there, under 20. a long-term cohesion is never gonna happen.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2006


I think the best thing we can do is get the winners of the NIT and NCAA finals to face off, and the winners that game in a Summer Olympics year would be our team in the Olympics. I think that gets to the heart of the teamwork issue.
posted by parmanparman at 11:03 AM on September 11, 2006


The best team in 2006 that exemplified teamwork (and has done so for 3-4 years now) was the Detroit Pistons. Instead of assembling an all-star cast of characters, why not just put the best NBA team against the world's best?

The Pistons were (before they lost Wallace) a well oiled machine capable of creating a dynasty. The only thing that stopped them was their complacency in the regular season.

Everyone keeps saying teamwork was what lost us the World Championship and the Olympics. So send a TEAM.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:12 AM on September 11, 2006


And BTW, any top 5 NBA team could mop the floor with the NCAA championship team or NIT championship team. Not because the NBA has better teamwork, but because NBA shooters are much, MUCH more accurate.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2006


Send the NBA champs of that year... especially because they call themselves "the World Champions" even though they never play a foreign team.

I think we should be talking less about saving USA basketball and more about saving basketball. Does anyone ever watch a regular season NBA game anymore?
posted by premortem at 11:18 AM on September 11, 2006


why not just put the best NBA team against the world's best

Because there are several international players in the NBA. Because I am sure that one team's owner is not going to want all of his players working their bodies for an extra three months. Because many players choose not to play because of age/fatigue (Shaq), injuries (Kobe), personal reasons (Micahel Redd was getting married), etc.

They are on the right path, but it's not a quick fix. They were missing shooters like Redd and Kobe, but with them shooting 3s instead of Joe Johnson, they'll be much better. It takes time for this national team to develop as a TEAM, but they are on the right path.
posted by scottymacten at 11:24 AM on September 11, 2006


Most NBA teams have at least one or two foreign players these days. And as Klosterman and many other writers have pointed out, some of the biggest stars can't/won't play. So the NBA champs idea, most of the time, won't be feasible. I think the problem is simple: once again, the American team didn't bring enough world class three point shooters to a tournament that is dominated by three point shooting. Until Michael Redd and Ray Allen (or younger equivalents, or if Kobe is ever healthy) are the starting swingmen, the US will continue to have problems.

On preview, what scottymacten said.
posted by Kwine at 11:29 AM on September 11, 2006


Send the Harlem Globetrotters, including all the Honorary Globetrotters, living or dead.
posted by pracowity at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2006


Say good bye to that "Dream Team" scenario. Those days are long gone.

The NBA is a trainwreck to watch. It's all about the show and nothing else.

No player cares, nor has the discipline and drive, to beat the top Natrional teams in Europe.

The clubs in Europe are even better. They have co-opted the old NBA mentality of running plays and teamwork-- and defense.

Wold love to see the Miami Heat go over there and play a series against CSKA or Barcelona.
posted by wfc123 at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2006


...Any top 5 NBA team could mop the floor with the NCAA championship team or NIT championship team. Not because the NBA has better teamwork, but because NBA shooters are much, MUCH more accurate.

Isn't the point of the Olympics that it's the biggest forum for amateur athletics? We should be encourage the best non-professional athletes among us, not trying to assemble just another cocky bunch of dream-teamers.
posted by parmanparman at 11:36 AM on September 11, 2006


including all the Honorary Globetrotters, living or dead.

Henry Kissinger?
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on September 11, 2006


ChasFile writes "Everyone can benefit from going to college, especially under-priveledged, inner-city youths."

As someone who works for a college I'd say this is untrue. Minimum 5% of the students we see shouldn't be here and we don't even hand out any full ride athletic scholarships. There is an expectation in Canada and the US that everyone needs a formal education culmulating in a degree but many students would be better served by, for example, becoming an apprentice and learning a trade.
posted by Mitheral at 11:40 AM on September 11, 2006


Idiotically excluding Gilbert Arenas who a) has the greatest range of any player who was potentially available for the roster, b) was willing to do whatever Coach K wanted c) was dying to play on the roster was unbelievable.

The exclusion of Bruce Bowen in favor of the can't-bang, can't-shoot-outside Chris Bosh was idiotic as well. The potential roster they put together was good, but basing the entire team on the LeBron/Dwyane/'Melo show wasn't going to work, as none of them was willing to subsume their egos for the benefit of the team. Sad, because LeBron /was/ one of the best passers in the NBA when he came into the L. Now he's the best traveller.

Sigh.
posted by fet at 11:42 AM on September 11, 2006


The NBA is a trainwreck to watch. It's all about the show and nothing else.

I'm an NBA fan. I watched about 120 games last year, most of them Cavs games.

The problem with the NBA is the officiating, not the players. Travelling and carrying the ball are never called-I love LeBron, but he gets away with three or four or these violations every game, and the other big stars are no different. Furthermore, the stars are favored heavily in foul calls when they drive to the basket-viz. Dwayne Wade in the entire 2006 playoffs. Often, NBA referees will wait to see whether a shot drops in before deciding whether to call a foul, which is ridiculous and infuriating. Post players are allowed to muscle for position far too much-the game was never intended to be so physical, and it is not played that way elsewhere in the world and in American highschool and college ball.

It isn't the fault of the players-the league higher-ups make decisions to favor "the show", and the players adapt to that environment. This is why they have trouble when forced to adapt to proper refereeing-they've molded their games to fit "the show". It's not their fault. It's not their fault. It's not their fault, wfc123. It's not their fault. /Will Hunting.

If CSKA had to come to Miami and play with NBA rules and refs, they would get crushed. If the Heat had to travel and the game was officiated properly, it would be close.

The league makes boatloads of money, and "the show" is what most of the target audience wants to see. It's a successful business. And I contribute some of my dollars to it-frankly, sometimes "the show" is quite entertaining. So, what to do?
posted by Kwine at 11:53 AM on September 11, 2006


What is with the assumption that the United States has the best players? No one ever questions this. What is the definition of a good basketball player? My definition would be a good player is one increases the likelihood that his team will win. The best players would be the ones that increase that likelyhood the most. By that definition, I am not so sure that the US has the best players in the world.

What people mean when they say that the US has the best players is that the US players can jump the highest and can dunk the ball the most theatrically. Most of the people claiming that the US needs to become more of a team still cling to this notion of the US having the best players. Perhaps it is time to redefine what we mean by the "best player."
posted by flarbuse at 12:03 PM on September 11, 2006


When Greece beat the U.S. in the semifinals, it was the greatest day in the history of Greek basketball; in fact, I assume it was the greatest day every member of that Greek squad will ever experience. When Mihalis Kakiouzis is lying on his Athenian deathbed five decades from this summer, he will still be thinking of the day he beat LeBron James in 2006.

What an arrogant prick.
posted by sour cream at 12:10 PM on September 11, 2006


Very good points, scottymacten and Kwine (your second comment).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:43 PM on September 11, 2006


Seconded, fet.
posted by saladin at 1:10 PM on September 11, 2006


Henry Kissinger?

Make no mistake. That man can hit a three pointer from anywhere on the court. Even when rules suggest he should only be able to score two points. He's that good.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2006


Of all the things I can think of that might require "saving," USA basketball wouldn't even be close.

Have this national team play barnstorming games around the world. During NBA All-Star weekend, they could serve as the opponents for the Rookie Game; on Sunday night during the Final Four, they could play a nationally televised exhibition against whoever won the NIT championship...

The And1 Streetball team?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:32 PM on September 11, 2006


What an arrogant prick.

I'm not seeing it Sour. If somebody had said something like this in 1980 about the US hockey team, everyone would have said, "damn straight".
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:36 PM on September 11, 2006


many students would be better served by, for example, becoming an apprentice and learning a trade.

Most future professional athletes should be going to performing arts schools. They are entertainers. They need to practice and play their sports, learn how to handle their money, and, realistically, become qualified to be gym teachers, most of them.
posted by pracowity at 1:41 PM on September 11, 2006


meta
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:54 PM on September 11, 2006


Perhaps his idea could be modified and really used. A permanent USA basketball team in the mould of permanent soccer teams that had a few NBA early years players and regularly brought in players from college could really work.

But doesn't anyone wonder if US basketball actually quite likes losing world championships? It's probably good for the game. Basketball in the US has a solid position - it doesn't in many countries where it is quite popular. But after Spain's win and Greece's success wouldn't you bet on thousands of Greek and Spanish kids playing basketball a lot more over the next few years? That is good for the game.

A European league of NBA standard would cement basketball as the world's number 2 sport.
posted by sien at 4:03 PM on September 11, 2006


All of his other ideas aside, I think the key point that Klosterman is making is simply that you can't cherry pick a bunch of talented NBA players every 4 years, throw them together in a gym for a couple of weeks, play a few exhibition games, and expect to win in today's global basketball environment.

What that suggests to me is that the idea of a permanent USA Basketball Team, with a coach that commits to coaching for 4 years and players that agree to playing for 4 years, and doing nothing else, does make sense. It also makes sense that these players should regularly be playing exhibitions against everyone they can find.

The NBA game has become something very different from the game of international basketball. You can argue whether that's a good thing or not, but it's true. You can't take guys who are used to one style of play and tell them to play a different style for a few weeks out of the year and expect it to work.
posted by marcusb at 5:32 PM on September 11, 2006


marcusb writes "The NBA game has become something very different from the game of international basketball. You can argue whether that's a good thing or not, but it's true. You can't take guys who are used to one style of play and tell them to play a different style for a few weeks out of the year and expect it to work."

The rampant travelling in the NBA must be the biggest adjustment they have to make. I'd bet it totally messes up the flow of their game.
posted by Mitheral at 2:23 PM on September 12, 2006


Is Klosterman even aware that the current team is part of a long range plan? Haven't those players have committed all the way through to the next Olympics?


The players selected for this year’s team have committed to participating this summer for the World Championship, next summer for practices if they win in 2006, or for the Olympic qualifier in Venezuela if they finish second or lower in Japan. And of course, in 2008 for the Olympics.
http://www.nba.com/usabasketball/restoration_060714.html

Probably just needed something to write about so why not blather on without finding out the facts?

I think the real problem with the Americans is that they don't wear converse.
posted by srboisvert at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2006


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