Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

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.

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

    (more…)

The Unease Before the Storm

August 13, 2008

Is tomorrow the day that this image is rectified? (image from NBA.com)

So this is it. It’s now just a little under 24 hours before the game that should be the heart of Team USA’s motivation takes place: a rematch with Greece, the team that beat the US squad in the FIBA World Championship semis, and officially made it clear that the Dream Team glory days were gone for good. The team assembled for those FIBA games was a constructed team, one built to best compete against the international brand of basketball, one built to rebound from the bronze medal finish in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Greece showed that the building was unstable – it had flaws in its architecture.

Tomorrow morning is the chance for a small salvation. It’s the game that DWade, LeBron, and Melo have been replaying over and over since that 101-95 loss.

And how did Team USA prepare for the game? By looking lackluster against Angola, that’s how.

(more…)

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

August 11, 2008
Team USA was ready on Sunday (photo from NBA.com)

Team USA was ready on Sunday (photo from NBA.com)

If there is one thing to take away from Team USA’s game against China, it’s that the intensity displayed by Coach K’s squad is the most promising thing I have seen from USA Basketball in the last six years.

Was it a perfect game? Not by any means. Jason Kidd continues to be turnover prone in his older age. Kobe Bryant was out of rhythm (his first jumper hitting the side of the backboard a la Richard Jefferson of the Bad-Dream Team). Melo never got involved on offense (neither on his accord or the rest of the team’s). Redd spent too much time on the bench while the rest of the team spent too much time missing 3’s. And the entire team went for too many perimeter steals, which led to some uncontested looks for China.

But none of that mattered; the will to dominate was apparent. Surely the fact that they were playing the home team in front of a packed, pro-China/pro-USA house helped keep the energy level up. China’s decision to try and play uptempo with them early on helped as well.

Regardless, the old fire was there.

(more…)

USA vs. Turkey: Live Blogging

July 31, 2008
Team USA takes their show to China for their 2nd of 5 pre Olympic exhibition games

Team USA takes their show to China for their 2nd of 5 pre Olympic exhibition games, this one against Turkey (photo from Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE, found here)

And we’re here. Good morning to all. This will be a mostly live blog of Team USA’s first pre Olympic tune-up game being played in China. Now, to the action:

  • A little internet delay, so here’s your recap of the first few minutes. ‘Bron’s back (starting in place of Wade), and he looks focused. Hedo Turkoglu won’t be playing today. USA looks solid coming out. LeBron drives to the cup, Melo splashes a J, Howard turns the ball over. About right.
  • Turkey has a couple of recognizable players. International basketball really is making a huge impact on the NBA.
  • Bron hits a three, Melo hits his second from nearly the same spot as the first.
  • Turkey is wearing soccer length jersey tops, and half of their players have them untucked. I don’t think I approve of that very much; it just looks sloppy.
  • Jason Kidd continues his inexplicable high shooting percentage from last year’s FIBA tournament as he hits a top of the key three.
  • Team USA then promptly gives up an alley-oop lay up on D as Turkey beats them down the court.
  • Chris Bosh hits a very Bosh-esque lay up (awkward looking, body turned in a weird angle) off of a feed from Kobe, putting the score at 20-15 US.
  • LeBron drops a gorgeous dime to Bosh for a quick two.
  • Turkey quickly misses a three, US goes the other way but botches a Kobe to James oop that would have blown up the arena, and Turkey comes back with a quick lay-up.
  • Dywane Wade, checked into the game for 5 seconds, uses his international play go-to move: the charge. And it’s good! Turkey ball.
    (more…)

The Facilitator: 5/1/08

May 1, 2008

The NBA has been moving and shaking in the last few days. The Mavs and Spurs are redundant, the Celtics and Pistons resilient, and the Hornets for real.

But I’m not here to talk about that. Too many people already touch on the wins and losses. Same same. Instead, here are the highlights from my day off catch-up of my RSS Feeds:

  • “God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot.”  –Ray Allen

    One of the many gems from Jackie MacMullan’s article on Ray Allen’s borderline OCD (nod to Bill Simmons’ latest batch of The Links for this one).

    Just as interesting is the window into the rituals of many other NBA players that the article touches on. Apparently Ray Allen got a good chunk of the young Sonics to follow his routine, including Luke Ridnour. I think Ridnour needs a refresher.

  • Josh Howard’s comments on pot smoking may or may not have effected the Mavericks outcome in the playoffs (I personally think Chris Paul made the Mary Jane uproar a moot point because he would have torched the Mavs either way, and I’m sure most of the players went home feeling like they needed a puff after the series anyway).

    But, it turns out that the Howard drama didn’t stop there. According to Jeff Caplan of Star-Telegram.com, Howard threw a 28th birthday party for himself after their Game 4 loss, specifically after former coach Avery Johnson had asked the team to refrain from extracurricular activities. The article is worth reading (full article found here), especially in light of the Avery Johnson axing (nod to Dime for this beat).

    Also, does anyone else smell another Dirk Nowitzki retreat coming on? I think we should start a poll to choose his vacation spot this summer. He did the Outback last year, maybe some spiritual rekindling in the Himalayas this summer? Or, perhaps, a combination of the weight room and man camp?

  • Tough Juice has Gilbert’s back. I’m talking about the game-winner he hit last night, yes, but moreso, the trash he talked to LeBron in addition to it:

    “Let’s make the series interesting,” he said, as LeBron laughed. “Let’s take it back to D.C.”

    And, of course, LeBron missed (and not, LeBron, it was not a foul).

    Mike Wise’s article also delves into how beloved Butler is by his teammates and the origins of the “Tough Juice” moniker if you don’t already know how it came to be (another nod to Dime–they’re making a bobblehead out of me today).

  • Finally, J.E. Skeets, on the blog Ball Don’t Lie (full post here), quotes Craig Ehlo (yes, this Craig Ehlo) as saying that he thinks Mark Cuban will offer the Mavs coaching job to Bobby Knight. Bobby Knight?!?!?!? No chance in hell, I say.

    More importantly, though, is the fact that Craig Ehlo is now giving NBA insight. Or, at least insight into matters other than being the other guy in all those Jordan highlights. Maybe someone should ask him about the relief he felt from those Gatorade commercials where they CGI’d the endings of all those famous sports plays and MJ missed the jumper.

NBA All-Star Weekend: Where Record Breaking Boobies Happen

February 16, 2008

dgibson3_400_080215.jpg
Boobie for three!

I was all set to post this right after the Rookie/Sophomore Game finished, but when I got to the WordPress login page there was a headline that caught my eye on the “Dashboard.” “Wolverine Movie Cometh” it read. Being a movie freak, and enjoying X-Men as much as the next young adult who grew up watching the cartoon/reading the comic, I followed the link to the article at a blog entitled Illseed. The post was brief, and it basically just chronicled the next installment of the X-Men series.

I decided to poke around the site a little, and I ended up finding something much more intriguing. The author had posted a riddle invented by Einstein. In the set-up, the author claims that the riddle is simple and straightforward but that Einstein stated 98% of people in the world wouldn’t be able to solve it. That hooked me right there, and I spent the next twenty minutes figuring it out. Click the link above to find the riddle, just be sure not to scroll down the page too far because the solution is in the comments.

Anyway, back to my original purpose of re-capping the Rookie/Sophomore Game. Below are my thoughts and observations, bulleted like they’re from Washington pre ’97.

(more…)

The Dunk Contest We Would Run

January 19, 2008

michael_jordan_trophy_slam_dunk_contest2.jpg
The glory years of the dunk contest… we can bring them back

Late last week, All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest invites started going out. On Saturday, Randy Kim at AOL Sports wrote an article about Jamario Moon’s inclusion, and then yesterday Mike Trudell at Timberwolves.com reported that defending champion Gerald Green accepted his own invitation to participate.

That means that within a few days, half of the participants have already been chosen. Henry Abbott at TrueHoop speculates that Dwight Howard should and will also be included, leaving only one remaining spot.

Don’t get me wrong, seeing Gerald Green and Dwight Howard square off in another dunk contest won’t be so bad, but I’m sick of how the league continues to mishandle a wonderful opportunity for sheer excitement. How can it be so hard to run a fruitful dunk contest when there are so many years of successful models from which to copy?

(more…)

Christmas is for the Kidz

December 26, 2007

bowtie.jpg

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.

(more…)

Now, but Then?

September 4, 2007

2007-msnt-team-photo.jpg

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…)