Profound, True, and Obvious
Some scattered Olympics thoughts. I know the game was earlier here, but now it's 3AM, so bear that in mind:
-Congrats, D-Wade, you are officially on my unmitigated list of unmitigated love. I know, you were always deft and hell-raising, but in these Games you played like you wanted to scare people on the way to getting results, and occasionally bask in the terrific afterglow of your own menace. You were pissed that the NBA had forgotten you, pissed about the USA's need to prove itself, and no longer shackled by domestic partnership. I don't want to say that your 2006 ring didn't have a sense of purpose to it, but there's a huge difference between numb teleology and delighting in each step of the journey.
-Now that we've won gold, I'll go back to believing that the USA's participation in international competition is really stupid. Basketball players are a natural resource here. It's like if Colombia entered a contest to see who kept the most coke in their apartment.
-Medal ceremony: I watched, and it was Kobe, Dwight Howard, and Wade singing, or at least mouthing, the national anthem. Michael Redd was talking to himself, LeBron was working on the anthem for his own country, which is already in the works. The country and the anthem, I mean. Please, try and tell me that's implausible. You know how when you really burn your hand, or feel extreme cold, you can't tell which one it is? That was the vibe I got from Kobe's gigantic grin and trance-like swaying toward the end—at once utter, "uncool" sincerity and PR-madness.
-Spain is my favorite non-USA team because they're weird. And that's how all national iterations of basketball should seem to outsiders. You would never expect any other team to play like America, and so it should be with style and other nations. Note: It doesn't count when they play a more "pure," or boring, or rudimentary, version. Let's see some national character! Pass around that DuBois essay where he takes Hegelian racism and turns it into a reason why we've all just got to be ourselves: Each country has a unique role to play in the destiny of the game. Or, if that's too domineering for you, national athletic identity is nothing if it makes such hardy reference to the game itself, rather than the people playing it.
-More medal ceremony: How awkward did everyone look? I know they were happy and had their guard down, and among other stars, no one really has to serve as pillar, lightning rod, and monolith. But if you'd told me that, in their moment of triumph, Bosh,Howard and Kobe would have the body language of 14 year-olds just adjusting to life with braces and a growth spurt, I'd have called you mad.
-I have no idea why Argentina thought jeans, jerseys and medals were a good look. Though you can tell a lot about a man from his choice in Olympic telecast denim.
-Was that the NBA game beating all, the NBA game adapted to FIBA, or evidence that there's no such thing as a prescribed NBA game anymore? I'm inclined to call this a win for the most lofty principles of style and fluidity, which left their stamp on these wins even with Coach K supposedly getting all West Point about defense and zone-busting, or something.
-What I really took away from this Olympics: Berni. Ziller says he spent a lot of the first Spain/USA game trying to determine if that was a first or last name. More importantly, Berni recently organized a summer course at the University of Malaga called "Basketball: A Social Phenomenon." His description: "Not a lot of people know how we live and only pay attention at what we do on court. This was a chance to see everything surrounding professional basketball and it was a fun, interesting thing to do."
-While we were toughing out that completely unprovoked Phelps flashback, my girl and I started thinking of colognes for various Olympic basketball participants. Berni's smells like a shuttle bus. Scola's, some sort of burnt cooking. Email me for more details or patents.
-Had to write this now so I could justify getting political tomorrow.