Workin' My Way Back Home
So it was with something far from eagerness, and even a wistful glance over at the first day of full NFL action, that I build my first day of vacation around the FIBA gold medal game.
I'm more than finished with the "Durant saves the globe" narrative. Woj took the moral high ground and flushed it down the toilet last night, which is sort of like when an infinitely dense point in space collapses on itself and creates a black hole of meaning. The doomsday scenario of a non-NBA qualifying team (discussed in the "Averting Disaster" section of this Works) is less frightening, and more colorful, than anyone else has bothered to notice. What's more, while America's best and brightest languish on the couch, it's not as if every international of note is risking life and limb to martyr his summer off. For all the parroting of the "more important than the Olympics to everyone else" line, we're not seeing it in the teams other countries have brought. Or maybe it's that, in those parts, individual is smaller than the collective—not ideologically, but in terms of their effect on outcome.
Really though, I just hate this team. Hate, hate, hate this team. Anyone who thinks Durant will walk unmolested into this same role next season, or on the 2012 team, is guilty of the kin of wishful thinking—or is it cynical—that's threatening to turn his name into an basketball adjective completely separate from on-court performance. The fact that Durant has taken on such a central role, from the second possession changes until someone—usually him—gets or denies the bucket, shows you what a headless, faceless, aberration of a team this is.
I've discussed this on the The Works previously, but Rose and Gay are two peas in a pod. I can think of a thousand Lamar Odoms I would rather see play center than this one. Forget innovation and revolution. This team is a grab-bag coasting on one superstar's limitless potential, amplified by his teammates' limitations and the lesser competition, and the ability of Rose and Gay to stay active. All those guards, including shooters like Curry and Gordon? They might as well be Kevin Love—the logical choice to get most of the minutes down low, but someone who has nonetheless had to make due with being a "sleeper". This team will win, but they wouldn't be such an abomination if they went with a point guard who could think, vital shooters, more versatility (other than then "sure, I can do whatever" variety), and a real big man. Does Curry, Iguodala, Granger, Durant, and Love sound so bad?
Other than Durant, Andre Iguodala is the only player coming out of this looking like he's earned some new acclaim, and that's largely because he looks far more natural in this role (stopper, skilled scavenger, feel for the game that suppresses his athlete's need to make big plays at all times) than he has at any time on the Sixers. He would be the perfect complementary piece to find his way onto the 2012 Olympics.
I frankly don't understand what Coach K is doing, especially without D'Antoni to whisper in his ear and slip him peyote, or a strong player cabal to lay down the law. There's a team buried in this morass that doesn't defy logic, nor require all sorts of new-fangled explanations to come to its defense. Nor one where we can only feel good about it relative to its performance in the tournament, which when we know that America always expects nothing less than supremacy, and Team USA has had very few close calls so far, makes the "see, they did it!" moot. I'll watch today because my wife likes Turkey, and there's the off-chance that something unexpected will happen. It sure has in all these other countries' games, which I wish I could get into—I somehow blame college basketball. Ultimately, though, today will be a day like any other: I'll hold my nose, watch Durant drop 40 and Team USA dunk the ball, and then wonder exactly what it means if anyone bothers to say "see, I told you so!"
P.S. Hey, who want to read and see the new, revamped, classic Z-graph?