The U.S. men's basketball team lost because they played bad basketball, a sign of how the NBA has lost its way

Dear Jason Whitlock:

I read your column on ESPN.com and was dismayed to learn that I am a racist. All this time, I thought I was one of the cool white people.

You wrote that people who weren't rabidly rooting for the USA men's basketball team in the Olympics were, at the very least, "borderline racist," because the American squad was all black. You even cited an ESPN survey that showed that more than half of the respondents were openly rooting against the USA team, while another 20 percent said they wouldn't mind if the U.S. team lost. That means that three out of four sports fans were at least mildly happy when Argentina beat the U.S. team in the semifinals.

I know I was, with my racist self.

During the past 15 years or so, the NBA has become just about unwatchable. The only time anybody watches that turd of a league anymore is during the playoffs, and even then, it's only because those games run from late April until mid-June, when the only other thing on TV is (ugh!) baseball.

Somewhere along the line, the NBA, in a miscalculation of epic proportions, decided to skew young and became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hip-Hop World. That's all well and good; pro sports are a form of entertainment. But somehow, the line that kept the game tethered to the shore of sports reality (winning is the ultimate goal in any game) came undone, and the NBA ship went adrift in the Bermuda Triangle of fashion, money and self-aggrandizement.

It became a league full of guys with incredible basketball skills and almost no clue as to how to play the game. Fans like me got tired of sitting in front of the set, screaming the old Gary Payton line, "Pass the ball, Dog!"

Unfortunately, excrement flows downhill, and the hip-hop NBA has had a horrible impact on kids. Go to any park, playground or gym in America, and ask kids what's more important--winning or looking cool. I guarantee you that "winning" will not be a unanimous response. Or try this: Ask kids, "If you had a choice between dressing and playing like John Stockton and winning all of the time, or dressing and playing like Allen Iverson and winning most of the time, which would you choose?" That question will get you about a 50-50 split, and that's disgusting.

Put it this way, Jason: If you got out the old Acme CloneMaster and put together a team of five John Stocktons to play a best-of-seven series against a squad of five Allen Iversons, on which team would you bet? The Iverson team, if they all got streaky hot, might win one game, but that series wouldn't even be close. Iverson has more skills, but Stockton plays better basketball, and that's what it boils down to.

Allen Iverson plays a shitty game of basketball. He's a point guard who doesn't pass the ball; he has a dreadful shooting percentage, and he couldn't guard a chair with a freakin' gun.

And Jason, you can't tell me that you didn't cringe at least a little bit when you saw Iverson at the post-game press conferences with his Yankees cap cocked just-so off to one side, with his slurred speech tumbling out in a series of grunts and unintelligible syllables. Didn't he go to Georgetown?

That was one funny part of the Olympics. Iverson was complaining to one of the international referees, and the announcer said, "That won't do any good, because these refs probably don't speak English." Well, hell, Allen Iverson doesn't speak English, either.

One of the big excuses given for the U.S. team's poor performance is that they hadn't played together for very long. Jason, you look old enough to remember a time when you could throw together five guys from different parts of the country, and within a few minutes, these guys could be playing ball like they had known each other for years. It's one of the grand joys of basketball, like being part of great music. It's like if you paired Charlie Parker with Miles Davis, or Eric Clapton with Buddy Guy, or Bootsy Collins with Prince. But NOT, it should be noted, Biggie Smalls with Tupac Shakur.

Watching these foreign teams play is like being in a time warp and watching good American basketball from 25 years ago. (Plus, they shoot lights out from the three.) There's nothing wrong with appreciating good basketball, or in dissing bad basketball. Heck, if the three losses in the 2002 World Championships and the three in the Olympics help nudge American professional basketball back in the direction whence it came, that'll be a good thing.

After Argentina beat the United States, Argentine guard Pepe Sanchez said (without an ounce of guile), "The Americans have the best players in the world, but basketball is not a game of 1-on-1. It's 5-on-5, and we have the (better) team."

Wow, teamwork. What a racist concept.

About The Author

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly