Touch someone else
My eternal thanks to all those inquiring about my well-being in the wake of Arenas's peril. I've said before that this whole USA Basketball cult is hopelessly overblown, and that no player should feel that his reputation rests on what he does or doesn't do for this team. And the news that Hinrich is squeezing Gilbert out of backcourt minutes only underscores this: Coach K has decided that a college-style machine is America's best angle of attack in the international game. I don't even see Our Hero being able to use this as fuel for his inspirational flame, since any who thinks Hinrich is a better basketball player than Arenas must have his head up his ass. Arenas is arguably the Association's best young point guard, while Hinrich only cracks the top five if you start excluding combo-ish indivdiduals. And incidentally, Hinrich's "purity" is vastly overestimated by anyone who feels that he's in the vein of Nash, Kidd or Paul.
Who I'm really pulling for in this roster sweepstakes is none other than the ethereal Joe Johnson, a man whose career thus far has been defined by a hideous eye injury and a contract that triggered an ownership crisis. He's someone whose rep might actually benefit from this experience, largely because few really get how talented and versatile dude is. Johnson is sound and shrewd enough to thrive in this heavily-coached, quasi-NCAA environment while still asserting himself as a star. He'll get minutes if the Coach is actually thinking, and once installed should open and eye or two (if there's anyone watching these games who doesn't already know all this about JJ). I suspect that plenty of people think he's on this team in some kind of complementary capacity; no matter how compromised a version of NBA ball this ends up being, Johnson can make a name for himself if his play compares favorably to, say, Melo's.
Then again, Melo is a fucking demon in international play. Who knows whether this is some kind of ironic anomaly, a sign of his continued improvement, or the cosmic will of God and His gang.