The United States Men's basketball team has lost the dream in the Dream Team of 1992. No longer are the days where they can dominate the floor like they have done in the past. Previous Olympic teams have not settled for anything less than gold and have done it with relative ease. These Olympics could be different.
When the team sent out invitations to the National Basketball Association (NBA) players, many rejected the invitations for a variety of reasons. Some of the players that did not want to give up their off-season include reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Garnett, an excellent point guard in Jason Kidd, scoring champion Tracy McGrady, the NBA champions' leading scorer Richard Hamilton, former first pick Elton Brand, two time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace, neither big man O'Neal, Jermaine or Shaquille, and many others. A popular reason cited was security in Athens, while others just wanted some rest during the off-season.
NBA teams also discourage their players from playing on the Olympic squad because of the danger of getting injured. For example, the expansion Charlotte Bobcats were disappointed with their second overall pick in this year's draft, Emeka Okafor, who accepted the invitation to play for the team. An injury in the Olympics would take time to heal and hurt the team's chances for success while the player is out.
The rejections by numerous veterans have resulted in a very young Olympic team. Half the team has less than two years of experience, including Okafor, who has never played a NBA game. Without a single holdover from the gold winning team from 2000 in Sydney, the team is the youngest since the International Olympic Committee began allowing professional players to compete in the Olympics in 1992.
On the Court
The team has played in a few exhibition games so far. While the U.S. has only lost just one of the six games so far, they do not look like a powerhouse squad. In their first game, the U.S. team dominated Puerto Rico, 96 to 71. In the next game, the U.S. team was the ones getting dominated as Italy won 95 to 78.
With dreary spirits the U.S. squad slipped by the German team led by Dallas Mavericks all-star Dirk Nowitzki. Team co-captain Allen Iverson shot a long-range desperation three pointer for the win, 80-77. Another two victories followed over Serbia Montenegro and Turkey, following by a rematch victory with Turkey.
The first game against Turkey pointed out several glaring holes in the U.S. team. The team does not have great perimeter shooting; there were several occasions when the team went stone cold from the perimeter. Towards the end of the Turkey game, the U.S. let Turkey cut into its lead by not shooting well and through poor defense, another weakness of the team. Turkey was draining three pointers much of the fourth quarter and there was nothing the U.S. team could do to stop it. Even when the Turks were not making shots, they had chances for offensive rebounds because the US team lacks a true center. The team's big men, Amare Stoudemire, Lamar Odom, Okafor, and Tim Duncan all play power forward in the NBA but are forced to split time at center.
Regardless of all the shortcomings with Team USA, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith predicts that the team will bring home the gold. The team still has the most NBA players of all the other teams competing in the Olympics, so there is more talent on this squad than the others. If this team can come together as a unit, Team USA should be able to make a push for the gold.
Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »