USA Basketball

The second topic I wanted to broach is one that’s become a morbid curiousity of mine since things started heading south; Team USA basketball. I’ve never been one of those people who thought America’s basketball problem was one of talent. Yes, the rest of the world has closed the talent gap with the United States, but down the line they’re not particularly close yet. Manu Ginobli is great, but he’s not Kobe Bryant, or even Chris Paul. And this certainly isn’t a sports version of jingoism on my part. I’ll be the first to point out that the United States has been well surpassed in terms of talent in baseball, for example, but all in all the US still has the most talented combination of players in the world.

The problem is that the people who run USA Basketball are primarily concerned with making headlines, stroking egos, and selling jerseys. They’ve gotten better recently, making a concious effort to get shooters and defenders onto the roster, and appointing a coach with past experience in the international game, but they’re not there yet. For example, what business do Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer, and Carmelo Anthony have lacing them up for the FIBA game? In the case of Kidd, yes he’s a great point guard, and one of the best ever, but the man is 35 years old, he can’t play defense anymore, and he never was a reliable shooter. He does nothing but take up a roster space, and because of ego Coach K has to start him, which hurts the team in ways I can’t begin to do justice to here. Long story short, Chris Paul should be the starting point guard. I love Carlos Boozer, but he’s undersized for the international game, and Carmelo Anthony is just worthless for the FIBA game, unless you need a run of bad shot selection for some reason. On the other hand, a guy like Shawn Marion would have been extremely helpful, as a great perimeter defender and a solid shooter.

In any event, they’ve gone in the right direction, but they’ve still got a long way to go.