Message to USA Basketball

When they came calling for Dress Code knowledge, I balked. Too easy, I thought; of course our shores would be opposed to slapping off-duty uniforms onto America's most expressive gladiators. It took this triumphant post from the man then known as THC for me to recognize that obvious is far from easy and restore my thoughtful horse. So indeed, I'm gonna take the bait and address the clamoring for an FD platform on international affairs. My take on Spangled Hoops, succinctly and with edges of pain: the general basketball population is burning itself into tormented rubble over nothing, feasting on its own dread and panic as a substitute for outward honesty.

There are numerous reasons why last Olympics and those Indy Worlds should be written off as disasters, which may or may not mean that America could still beat other countries with ease. What I have yet to be convinced of is that any self-respecting NBA fan need trouble himself with the proposition "the USA should be able to enter the fray of international competition and emerge the sole survivor." True Hoop has been all over the casual equivocation of World Champ and NBA Champs, including the Spurs' gentlemanly acceptance of the technical facts. While I'm hardly one to mess with natural law, there is something proud and deserving about the way players tend to talk about the LOB: namely, try convincing any of them that said trophy doesn't represent the utmost in team basketball achievement.

International competition is noble and all, but it's a secondary activity, like NCAA ball. Different, perhaps better suited to some tastes. . .and emphatically not the highest concentration of talent per capita in the universe. I am reminded of a favorite movie of mine, in which a monstrously powerful political figure has great difficulties running for mayor in a rural enclave. If anyone thinks that makes him the lesser man of the two, I would like to present you with a bank full of moral victories and folksy consolations in life.

If international basketball is a sideshow that for some reason pro stars can't win, true NBA believers need not feel the acid pull of desperation. I don't want to shit on any foreign lands by saying the basketball they so cherish is beneath us, but a list of the 100 Greatest expanded beyond our borders might charitably include three non-Americans. On the other hand, if it's legitimately a different game, our men and women in the trenches should be allowed to dismiss it (or at least the chance to learn it before being plunged into derision). I cannot help but return again to NCAA ball: only a fringe NBA'er would ever put his college accomplishments above his time in the pros. But just as a preference for NCAA ball points toward a man's soul, anyone hung up on international competition suffers from wanderlust and distraction. Possibly due to off-season malaise.

Some preemptive mumblings: yes, in the Dream Team era, victory came with ease. Those squads were disgustingly well-endowed and their victims not nearly as competent, a combination that made the NBA/all-places distinction into fine print semantics. I have no problem with allowing that the rest of the world might now be advanced enough to outwit NBA players in a specialized setting. And even if the game now hovers over all nations, shit is American in origin and continues to emanate from this proud land of ours. Until European leagues regularly produce All-Stars, or cease to be dumping grounds for lost second rounders, international ball is a derivative of the NBA. And this Association of ours will remain the Real Thing, to which all others forms must pay homage.


At 7/28/2006 9:47 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i am finally done editing this. patriotism, like fandom, does not agree with my style.

At 7/28/2006 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have truly suprised me on your pop culture reference. Welcome to Mooseport? You could've done a spectacular Simmons parody by matching quotes from the movie with Team USA's struggles:
Sally - I am not stronger than you, I'm a girl
Handy - Exactly, so it hurts both physically and emotionally.
Goes to the Tim Hardaway...

wv: vqcaxxl - my new herpes meds

At 7/28/2006 10:56 PM, Blogger T. said...

Just a quick note for Shoals (reporting from Shanghai).

adidas plans to elevate Gil (and Chauncey Billups) to the status of TMac, Duncan and KG in their marketing next season.

You've been warned.

At 7/28/2006 11:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

do they really have a choice? you could make a case for him as the best-exposed all of those four at this very moment. he's coming off the most impressive playoff exposure of any of them; being lebron's foil and going blow-for-blow with him more than makes up for ony lasting one round. he put himself on the radar with that.

At 7/29/2006 12:29 AM, Anonymous le pen&zizou said...

who are the three non-USA 100 greatest? Dirk, Arvydas and Hakeem?

At 7/29/2006 12:42 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

well, i actually was thinking sabonis, dirk, and petrovic, though drazon was supposed to underscore the "charitable" part.

with hakeem, you get into hair-splitting about what equals an international player. his inclusion means that duncan belongs, too. and many of you may remember the "steve nash is the nba's schilling" argument. . .

my original criteria was "didn't play stateside college ball," but it really should come down to where their substantial basketball training was.

another verison of my position: nba stardom translates somewhat into the international game. all quality nba players can assert themselves in that setting. doesn't seem, though, that it goes the other way: plenty of international players can't do shit in the association. ergo, the nba is the mightiest of them all.

At 7/29/2006 3:05 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Oscar, anyone? Only half in jest. I have argued for Sabonis for over a decade. I think if Petrovic is mentioned then Toni has to be but a small step removed. In terms of numbers Yao has already surpassed Arvydas. Is there a theis within this thrust of mine, no (shrug)?

At 7/29/2006 5:07 PM, Anonymous Rhondda Nunes said...

Is the thrust of your thesis the Tao of Yao?

At 7/29/2006 6:43 PM, Anonymous tibo said...

"sabonis, dirk, and petrovic"

hum Vlade Divac anyone ?
Plus tony parker's father may be american , tony learned basket in france

At 7/29/2006 6:50 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


At 7/29/2006 7:57 PM, Anonymous spider said...

How did the East beat the West that year?! West was stacked with at least 8 hall-of-famers by my count, while the east had... Antonio Davis and Anthony Mason. That's crazy

At 7/29/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous ml said...

how about nash?? also are you talking 100 greatest all time? or present day? if the latter then I think you might be stretching a bit..

At 7/29/2006 11:03 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

@ spider: You're absolutely right. In my selective memory, the reason was Dikembe's last great defensive stand and Kobe giving up the ball on a potential game-winner after having matched two Marbury 3's with two amazing shots of his own. I vaguely remember Dikembe flying in to contest his jumper and Kobe dishing to Duncan in mid-air for a hook that was way short, followed by a missed Webber tip-in. Didn't the east go with a Phoenix Suns-esque line-up (save Dikembe) for that 4th quarter?

At 7/30/2006 4:26 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'm not really sure why anymore, but i think that iverson's not being on makes this even less relevant to the nba. when one of the league's best players wants to go, you let him; otherwise, it's building a different kind of monster with uncertain implications for those involved. it beomes a puzzle solved by any means necessary using NBA stars, not "America's finest stand up for American and get the job done." in a weird way, it almost feels dishonest.

At 7/30/2006 8:45 AM, Anonymous spider said...

About 4 years ago, when New Jersey acquired Mutombo to supposedly neutralize Shaq , he was one of the most overrated players in the league. Now I would call him one of the most underrated

At 7/30/2006 5:02 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Good call, Herr Shoals, on the Deke peek.

My comment on Oscar shouldn't be eschewed as totally glib, when B was drafted by the Suns a few years back he was the second leading scorer in Brasil's top league a fortysomething O was still leading the league and scoring with the apparent ease that stopped Denny Crum's ill-fated Pan-Am team 20 years ago.

At 7/30/2006 10:48 PM, Blogger T. said...

Shoals - yeah, but very few (if any) casual fans know Gil. Duncan, TMac, KG? Absolutely. (I actually asked if Dwight was going to be elevated too, but the guy said, not quite yet).

Only 3 top-100 ex-US? Sabonis for sure - have you seen tape of when he was thin? Like a Walton who scored 24+ ppg. Where does Detlef fall in this one - us collegiate experience, but unadbashedly German. He'd never play on the US Olympic team (hello Hakeem!).

Petrovic? He was good, but I'm not sure if he was great. . .yet.

I'd like to throw my votes towards Oscar (if only he'd be around in the 1970s/Decade of NBA Ball hogs) and Sharunus Marcilonus.

out of 129 current hall of fame players - here are the international players:

Name and year elected shown

Drazen Dalipagic 2004
Dino Meneghin 2003
*Drazen Petrovic, 2002

Not a whole lot to choose from. But Sabonis and Oscar retired within the last few years, so we'll see them in Springfield soon.

At 7/31/2006 2:56 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

Petrovic makes it less on "greatness" and more on Free Darkoness.

Straight Outta Zagreb, bitches.

At 7/31/2006 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Sabas, maybe Oscar. I have to give Petrovic my vote. Somewhat biased since I grew up watching him with Cibona but I believe he would be scoring in bunches in today's league.

At 9/04/2006 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...





You cannot argue that you know basketball OR FreeDarko if you leave the Slavic Vinnie Johnson off this list.

I don't care if I was not the first to say it. It needed to be said, and said again, and said again.


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