USA Basketball 1 – The World 0

I am really not into the whole Pros vs Joes: The Olympic Edition as much as you might gather from my choice of Blog titles.

Having the benefit of growing up in the 1900’s, I know what it was like when our best amateur athletes competed against professionals that were juiced and ate hay in between competitions in their stalls (that’s right, I’m talking to you Russia, China, and East Germany).

The Dream Team was fun to watch in 1992 because it was the NBA’s MVP Team, except for the bag carrying rookie Christian Laettner. (Why is it again that Shaq wasn’t on that team?)
Flash forward to the days when America is no longer dominate on the world’s basketball stage and the latest in basketball footwear is tracked via blog. The times they have a changed my friend. And for the better.

The Redeem Team, as they have become known, seem to be off to a solid start after defeating the hosting country’s (China) team soundly by a score of 101 – 70 in their first game. I wonder if they will be forced to apologize to China for this as the cycling team had to after donning facemasks to protect their world class athletic bodies from the smog produced from area sweatshops?

For me, this is a yawner event, even though I will dvr this basketball action. This, on my part is more due to me jonesing for basketball action that the WNBA cannot provide, than being intrigued with what the games mean.

I have been disgusted with the use of the event by superstars Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant to put out the warning that they will consider and solicit offers from non NBA leagues, ala Josh Childress.
Here’s the breakdown:

NBA Commissioner David Stern should already be losing sleep over LeBron’s statement. Without winning a ring, LeBron has taken over as the face of the NBA. He is also the future of the NBA. Even Time magazine placed LeBron on the cover as one of 100 athletes to watch. (It was actually “LeBron James & 99 More Athletes To Watch”) To the right of LeBron’s face was the caption “Leader of the Redeem Team.”

LeBron’s statement of going outside the league and country to share his talents (for huge pay) eclipses the conspiracy theories of him hiding out in Ohio until his contract runs dry so he can head to New York. Dave, you better work hard on this.
As far as Kobe? Who cares? By the time his contract runs out, even staunch Lakers’ fans will be weary of trying to care. Kobe is very much in the middle of a change of guard in the game that could leave his legacy left wanting. I believe it was John Cougar Mellencamp who once said, “There is nothing more sad or glorious, than generations changing hands.”

I am finally of the mind that Kobe needs to win more than one more championship to be in the converstation of “one of the best ever.”

Last season’s championship run, as great as it was as far as overachieving, reintroduced Los Angeles to the sniveling and talented Jekyll/Hyde kid that when he doesn’t get his way yells at those around him and threatens to take his gear and go home.

The Kobe that heads abroad and plays in the Italian league will be very exciting to those fans. But for NBA fans, especially the ones in Los Angeles, they will be getting the Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson coming out of retirement version that is a mere shadow of the former player.


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