So, the Olympics are over and it’s time for that “much anticipated” fall TV lineup of shows like “Father of the Pride” to consume our time.
Well, that’s what NBC wants with all its “Must-See-TV after the Olympics” ads. But looking back on the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens, Greece, there were many captivating storylines that made these Games as much of a must-see affair for sports fans as it will be for music fans when Usher and Kanye West come to town.
You could start with the controversy over the gold medal in men’s all-around gymnastics.
Some Olympic officials have suggested that American Paul Hamm give back the gold medal that he won because the judges made an error in scoring the parallel bar routine of South Korean Yang Tae-Young.
You could also switch to track and field where one of the major events usually dominated by the United States ended with unfamiliar results. The men’s and women’s 400-meter relay teams failed to capture the gold for the same reason: bad baton exchanges.
But the most shocking story was the performance of the men’s U.S. basketball team.
Last Friday, the TV room on the Set was transformed into a sports arena of enthusiastic basketball fans to watch the semifinal game between the United States and Argentina. With a win, the U.S. would advance to the gold medal game.
To make a long story short, we couldn’t stop Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs and a Fabio look-a-like and settled for a bronze medal for the first time since NBA players began competing in the Olympics in 1992.
So what went wrong?
I’ll start with the fact that this team had the talent to win the gold.
No other squad put forward a more athletic team in the entire competition. But athleticism alone was not enough. Anyone can penetrate through the lane, but if you can’t hit an open jumper from the perimeter, it will be a rough tournament.
This is especially true because of the zone defense that the U.S. faced that forced them to settle for the outside shot. An outside shot that only saw 26 percent of the U.S. three-point attempts converted.
After all, the line is only 20 feet, six inches from the basket. Where were guys like Michael Redd or the most dangerous player on a basketball court, the open white guy?
I’m sure we could have convinced somebody like Steve Kerr or Dan Majerle to come out and knock down a few threes for the red, white and blue.
I’ve never been one to point fingers when things don’t work out the way they should, but that’s going to change now. First up to plate? Richard Jefferson.
My TV room partners know what’s coming. In the final seconds of the upsetting lost to Argentina as a way to further U.S. embarrassment, an Argentine player leaked out into the front court and received a pass for an open court basket. Jefferson, trying to show he still had pride in the letters across his chest, went to contest the shot. And got dunked on.
That, along with his 32 percent shooting and 6.8 points per game makes me question why the New Jersey Nets gave him a contract extension worth $78 million. He never should have been on this team.
The coach is rarely blamed, but Larry Brown deserves some of the heat. Tim Duncan stayed in foul trouble because Brown wouldn’t take him out.
He wouldn’t play Carmelo Anthony the minutes he deserved, possibly for comments he made to the press. Anthony was arguably the brightest shooter from the perimeter. Brown didn’t demand enough full court pressure to force turnovers. But his biggest mistake? Jefferson was a starter. Puh-lease.
Nothing should be taken from the international players. Their style of play is gradually beginning to show flaws in the NBA game.
Team ball is embraced and their big men can put the ball on the floor, pass and hit the open shot. Don’t be surprised to see players like Sarunas Jasikevicius of Lithuania making names for themselves in the league in years to come.
While a lot went wrong for the team, like bringing the wrong uniforms to the bronze medal game, some stars did come to play.
Allen Iverson led the team in scoring with 13.8 points a game. Lamar Odom showed me that the Lakers may actually be a decent team.
But let’s be real, anything less than the gold medal makes me upset that I woke up at 7:30 in the morning to watch them play.
contact LeMont Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org