Posts Tagged ‘Dwyane Wade’

USA vs. Argentina: I am no longer afraid

August 21, 2008
I feel the same as Bolt for USA's game against Argentina (image from BBC's Olympics 2008 blog)

My confidence level is about the same as Bolt's for Team USA's game vs. Argentina (image from BBC's Olympics 2008 blog)

For a year I have been worried. Beginning the moment that Team USA finished up the FIBA Olympic Qualifier last summer, doubts crept into my mind.

What if a key player gets injured (LeBron), convicted (Melo), engaged (all of them — they’re NBA players)? What if Colangelo makes an asinine roster mistake? What if any superstar attitudes that were pushed selflessly to the side during the qualifier emerge during the Olympics? And worse: what if none of this matters because the international competition is simply too good now?

After only six games, only 10 days, though, I have put all fear behind me.

With Argentina waiting tomorrow morning (10:15 am ET, USA network I’m assuming), I am almost unable to even imagine a scenario where Team USA does not walk away with the W and march onward to the gold medal game. The team is playing too well, their defense (save for some occasional slap your forehead lapses) too scrappy, their desire too fierce.

More importantly, Argentina is a squad full of NBA players. Trust me, this is a good thing. Manu Ginobli and Oberto play on the Spurs — a team that has been playing long into the post season for numerous years now. That’s built in scouting right there. Additionally, Kobe and Prince have both matched up against Ginobli in important games before, so they know what to expect.

Likewise for Nocione and, to a lesser extent, Scola. Both played on playoff teams recently and are good enough to have garnered some attention.

Then there’s Delfino. Delfino… well, whatever, he’s just Delfino.

The point is, Team USA has performed well against all the teams they have faced in these Olympic games with NBA talent. They beat China (two current, one former, one future NBAer) by 31, Spain (four current, one former, two future) by 27, and Germany (two current) by 49.

Meanwhile, they “only” beat Angola and Greece by 21 and 23 respectively, neither of whom has a current NBA player on their squad.

This isn’t a knock on the USA scouting staff. It’s simply easier to get up for a game against a rival, and it’s easier to play against opponents that you have game familiarity with.

With the final goal so close to being realized and the team rolling, Argentina should prove to be nothing more than a turnstile for Team USA: an obstruction offering little resistance, and the only thing between USA and a shot at gold.

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The Dare to Dream Team

August 14, 2008
A fitting summation of the day

A fitting summation of the game (image from USABasketball.com)

At times, it was almost magical. There were moments so inspiring that I stood up from my chair in the empty newsroom of my grad school, yelled to myself with a silent, mouth open roar (so as to not break the spell), and celebrated with arms flexed, just as I saw Chris Bosh do later, just as I once did during my own playing days.

The moments were entrancing, engulfing:

  • Dwyane Wade’s steal/save/alley-oop to Kobe Bryant’s most emphatic finish since christening Dwight Howard
  • Kobe Bryant’s over the shoulder flip to a cutting Wade for the strong, hanging and-one finish
  • Chris Bosh’s numerous improbable lay-ups, scored after absorbing hard contact and nearly inhuman body contortion (perhaps the best in-air body control I have seen from a PF before)
  • Chris Paul’s near destructive inside out dribble on a Grecian defender who only remained upright thanks to a screen from a USA player that prevented his descent into infamy
  • LeBron James’s Harlem Globetrotters-esque slipping spinning dribble to lay-in
  • The successive LeBron James and Chris Bosh block, a tangible exclamation point on the statement: this is for the last time, this is for all time

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Christmas is for the Kidz

December 26, 2007

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Phil Jackson shops at the same store as Pee-Wee Herman and the Cat in the Hat

What more was to be expected on a day intended first and foremost for the children of the world? With three of the NBA’s youngest teams on display in the Lake Show, Blazers, and Sonics, the young’ins showed their Christmas spirit with an entertaining pair of games. And the Cavs/Heat played too.

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Kind of Like How AI learned His Crossover

November 17, 2007

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Back in SLAM magazine about seven years ago, which is before SLAM turned into SI for Kids with street cred and better photographs, there was a quick blurb on a player (whose name I now forget) that attended Georgetown with Iverson and claimed to have taught AI the deadly cross that became the staple of his game. That single move defined Iverson on the Sixers. It was so vicious that the NBA had to start re-enforcing palming violations because the cross-over became damn near impossible to defend.

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Perfection Continued: Heat vs. Celtics Game Recap

November 17, 2007

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After a back-to-back against the Pacers and Nets, the Celtics looked rejuvenated following their rest day, as did the Boston fans. Then again, that is in comparison to how the Celtics fans acted when Jersey was in town, and in fairness to the Boston crowd, that’s like taking an Ambien and going to a middle school chorus recital.

The extra energy, while most noticeable in how the C’s ran in transition all game long, nearly derailed the Celtics at the end, with Boston committing untimely turnovers and ill-advised, near game-costing fouls. Luckily, Captain P came to the rescue, scoring the game winning basket with 22 seconds left, and Boston walked away a 92-91 victor and 8-0 on the season.

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Now, but Then?

September 4, 2007

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Beijing. An impending challenge looming in an impending summer. Certainly nothing to worry about now, not with training camp and pre-season coming up, not with the quest of the NBA Championship, the one that brings in the bread (the quest for the other, until recently, only good for bringing in the bronze), the one where careers and legends are truly made. But with patriotism and pride still hanging thicker than these hot, hazy San Diego days, the question of who will go to battle for Team USA next summer matters more than the upcoming season. At least until I see KG suited up in his Celtics home whites for the first time.

Chris Sheridan wrote an interesting article on how he sees the roster selections breaking down for the Olympics (read the full article here). Sheridan sees seven locks—Kobe, ‘Bron, Melo, Kidd, Howard, Redd, and STAT—as well as two guaranteed additions in D Wade and Bosh (of course, all predictions are based on healthy players). The tenth spot will be a back-up PG—either Chauncey, Paul, Williams, or Hinrich. The final two spots, according to Sheridan, will most likely to be filled by Battier and Brand.

Sensible thinking by Sheridan, and surely his connections with NBA insiders allows for a more accurate prediction than I can make, but if logic rules the selection process next summer, this is how the roster should end up: (more…)