SBD/Issue 236/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Third Watch: Columnists React To U.S. Team’s Loss In Worlds

USA’s Quest For Gold
Ends With Greece
The U.S. men’s basketball team beat Argentina 96-81 Saturday to win the bronze medal at the FIBA World Championships, a day after being defeated 101-95 by Greece in the semifinals. The U.S. has not won a major int’l men’s basketball tournament since the ’00 Sydney Olympics. In Arizona, Jerry Brown reported USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team Managing Dir Jerry Colangelo gave Team USA’s “first foray into rebuilding its infrastructure and recapturing international basketball respect under his guidance a solid 10.” Colangelo: “We took the first step” (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, 9/5). Colangelo “noted that the whole aim is to prepare” for the ’08 Olympics. He said the U.S. “got a lot done” toward that goal (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/6).

COACH SPEAK: U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski: “There are really three different games that are played by our country. We play an NBA game that if the world played, it might be different results. Then there’s an international game; then there’s the collegiate game. So when you cross over from one to another, in worldwide basketball, I think it’s up for grabs” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/4). Krzyzewski, appearing on ESPN’s “PTI,” said, “I think we’ll be the favorite in the Olympics. ... We have to continue to adjust.” He also pointed out Team USA’s inexperience playing as a unit: “You watch Spain, who won the World Championship. Those guys have been together since 1999 in the Juniors” (ESPN, 9/5).

LOSS SHOULD NOT BE A SHOCK: In DC, Michael Wilbon wrote Americans’ “arrogance has no boundaries when it comes to international basketball, though it ought to by now. ... In every other sport we seem to understand that we’re not the only ones playing, that we’re not vastly superior and, in fact, often aren’t as good” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/2). In Houston, Fran Blinebury: “The fat lady’s been standing outside screaming at the top of her lungs about Team USA’s place in the world game for most of the new millennium. This was just one more chance to notice” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/4). In Boston, Bob Ryan: “Beating the NBA representative is no longer a miracle. It is an accepted rite of passage for any upstanding basketball country” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2). In Richmond, John Markon: “Sooner or later, the losses need to stop as a shock” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 9/2).

BLAME THE NBA?
In Chicago, Rick Telander wrote under the header, “Root Of U.S. Team’s Problem May Be NBA.” Telander: “It never seemed to dawn on any of us, or the NBA, that the rest of the world was out there patiently practicing a team game suited to the international rules” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/3). In Denver, David Krieger called Michael Jordan “the worst thing that ever happened to American basketball. ... If you could leap and fly and dunk, you didn’t spend hours every day of your childhood shooting jump shots the way those kids in Europe did” (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 9/2). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette: “USA basketball would do itself and young hoopsters across this country a tremendous service to focus more on substance and fundamentals and less on a hip-hop image” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/2).

YEAR-ROUND FOCUS: In K.C., Jason Whitlock wrote the U.S. should “build and pay for a year-round team. Pay 10 guys $500,000 a year to travel the globe practicing and playing together and sprinkle in three or four NBA superstars for major international competitions.” NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA players “should walk away now before they do any more damage to the NBA brand” (K.C. STAR, 9/3). ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan wrote the U.S. is losing in major tournaments “because Team USA keeps changing its roster, never developing the chemistry and familiarity that the best teams from other parts of the world have developed as their greatest strength” (ESPN.com, 9/2).

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