Team USA Basketball

August 26 2004 19:39 (+ 10 - 8 )

54.1 percent of Americans want to see Team USA Basketball (men's) lose, according to an ESPN Page 2 Daily Quickie poll. Okay, so maybe some of that 54.1 percent isn't American, but the idea that a large number of Americans aren't happy with the men's team is sound. I was one of them; yes, I was one of them.

I was once asked by a friend if I was watching the Olympics. I told him no. He said that the basketball team was on. I told him that was the reason I wasn't watching it. "When I see that group of men trying to play together, I get angry and find myself cheering AGAINST them. I didn't want to do that."

I was torn.

By no means am I a basketball fan. I can't stand the game. So, even if I liked Team USA, I wouldn't be watching them. Normally, I would check the scores from time to time, like I do for my school (yeah, I cheer on the Gator basketball teams, but I won't watch them). Normally, I would hope Team USA would win gold, I just wouldn't care to watch them, because it's basketball.

You see, my beef with them was exactly what I told my friend: a "group of men trying to play together." The NBA All-stars we sent to Athens had no sense of team. They are a group of stars, each a good player in their own right and the "go to guy" on their respective clubs. Put them together and you got a bunch of inflated egos together. This can lead to internal conflict, internal chaos (in a broad sense), and a holier-than-thou attitude as a whole.

Okay, so there wasn't any internal conflict, from what I could tell. There was, however, that chaos, as they couldn't play together; each thought they were the go to guy (again, my estimation, as I don't watch, but the inability to play as reported led me to believe this).

Oh, and don't get me started on the "holier-than-thou" attitude. Team USA basketball has no sense of Team. All of the other athletes are housed together in less-than-luxurious accomdations, but not Team USA basketball. These millionaires get to spend their times at the Olympiad aboard the luxurious Queen Elizabeth II, because they're better than all the other athletes (yet they don't seem to be proving it on the court).

Then came the game against Spain. In addition, came some stuff after the game.

Now the entire us-against-the-world cliché is about to come out, so sorry ahead of time, but it's apt. Everyone wants the United States to fail, and Team USA has turned that into motivation.
"We've been together awhile, and we've been through some difficult times," [coach Larry] Brown said. "The adversity we've had getting blown out by Italy and Germany, playing so poorly against Puerto Rico, giving the game away against Lithuania, has made us much closer."
The Americans played hard against Spain, not only diving for loose balls but throwing elbows and hip checks and bending Spain's will as far as it would go. And the refs noticed it, calling 27 fouls against the Americans to only 18 against Spain. But the United States will take that. "We have a sense of pride," [Carlos] Boozer said. "We're on the biggest stage in the world. We want to win."

Finally, they have a sense of team to them. I don't think I can question their least not for the name they wore on the front of their jersey, and certainly of each individual for the name on the back of their jersey. Before the Spain game, though, I did question their pride in each other as a team. I questioned their cohesiveness as a group. Now, I say "good for them" for turning all this angst against them into motivation. I hope they can pull off a "mini miracle" and win the gold.

In my own, won't-care-to-watch-but-I'll-check-the-score kind of way, I'll be cheering for them, now. I'll be cheering for my team...for my country!

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