The USA’s Men’s Basketball Team is the consensus pick for gold in the Beijing Olympics.
Although their interior play and defense are subject, the Americans are the most talented and athletic team in the field. They have been on cruise control through the pre-Olympic matches; no one has sufficiently challenged them.
If they dominate the Olympic Games with their style, no one in the field can catch them. It’ll be like if Tim Allen challenged Tyson Gay in a 100 meter sprint.
But what happens if the American team is challenged? If Spain drubs them early, how will they respond? If Manu and the Argentinians stage a late-game comeback, can the Americans keep their composure?
Officiating will be a big factor in highly-contested games. I’m not talking about Tim Donaghy; it’s the exact opposite, actually.
Every player on the American team is a stand-out in the NBA. Since the NBA is more about entertainment than keeping to the fundamentals of the game, the NBA stand-outs get a very long leash.
In FIBA play, Deron Williams will be called for palming the ball. Chris Paul will be called for his sneaky fouls. LeBron James will be called for charging. And on the list goes…
FIBA officials aren’t going to be worried about handing out the “superstars” calls. But the favoritism for American players should be kept at a low; like the amount of food-stamps given out during the Republican National Convention.
Sure, LeBron James is a recognizable basketball figure internationally. But why would an Angolan referee let James play football simply because the NBA and Nike have expended billions in marketing?
How the Americans respond to more objective officiating is up for debate.
During the USA-Russia game, Andrei Kirilenko was visibly frustrated with the officiating. However, Fran Frischella never pointed out when LeBron or Dwyane Wade would complain about getting a charging or walking call. Carmelo Anthony was every bit as moody as AK-47 during the first half and no one mentioned that.
I’m not trying to assert that the USA basketball team is a bunch of whiners but it is odd that the European-born NBA players are stereotyped as the complainers. Why doesn’t the brush come back the other way?
Will the American team shoot themselves in the foot during a close game?