It's interesting to see who is "The Man" on a team where everyone is "The Man" on their respective NBA teams. There's a debate in the NBA as to whether Kobe or Lebron is better, with most leaning to Kobe. On this team, there is NO QUESTION Lebron is the star or stars.
Thus far, he's been the US team's best shotblocker, rebounder, ballhandler, finisher, scorer... he's been just awesome. He had a play today where he tracked down a Chinese fast break, went up for the block, and CAUGHT THE BALL with two hands. If he had wanted, he could have blocked the shot with his forehead.
The commentators mentioned that he was an inch shorter and ten pounds lighter than statutory rapist/deadbeat dad bruising PF KARL MALONE. It's not an exaggeration to say he might be the most amazing athlete in the world. I chuckle a little when people talk about how good ballplayers were in the 60s; I mean, Lebron is BIGGER than Bill Russell was.
If Team USA matches up with Argentina, our man Fab better watch out. He or Nocioni are going to have to try to match up with Lebron, and that's not going to be pretty.
What's up with Kobe?
Kobe has been absolutely awful. Who is this impostor? Do we need to hypnotize him to make him think he's facing Ime Udoka? He seems determined to miss preposterously difficult shots every time he has the ball.
What's up with 'Melo?
Who is this guy? He's hustling, hitting the boards, playing unselfishly... could it be that this is who he really is, and Denver is bringing out the worst in him? That would have been a positive indicator for signing JR Smith. Oh well, I'm sure Roger Mason will knock our socks off with his awesomeness.
Yi Jianlian = Chinese for "Francisco Elson"
This guy is 7' tall, athletic, but has NO CLUE how to play. He makes just enough plays to make you think maybe, just maybe, the light bulb will come on, but guess what, it's not going to. I'm going to declare him a bust right now. I think watching him for 20 minutes today is more than enough of a sample size. That's my initial impression, and in honor of our upcoming presidential election, now that I've stated an opinion, I'm going to defend it to the death.
The US isn't stacked with great shooters, but they've got too many good shooters to be shooting this poorly. Perhaps the shorter international line actually hurts them; I mean, why would you practice shooting from a few feet inside your regular three point line?
The jumpers are generally on line, but long. I wonder if it's a psychological issue, because they know they are shooting a three, but they feel like they should be farther out and give it a little extra "oomph."
Speaking of international rules, WE INVENTED basketball (be quiet, Canada). Why should the Olympics be played under some weird-ass foreigner trapezoid lane rules?
It would be like if the US held the World Cup and made up its own rules for soccer. Then every four years the Brazilians would struggle, and the commentators would tsk tsk and say "well, in Brazil, the goalie's allowed to use his hands to block the ball, but under American soccer rules, he can only use his face."
It really bothers me--our sport, play it by OUR RULES. Sheesh.
Other Random Thoughts:
Beach volleyball is a funny Olympic sport. Why not frisbee golf? Air hockey? That said, it's not hard on the eyes, at least when those of the female persuasion are playing. Plus, they seem to hug A LOT.
The male beach volleyballers, by contrast, all seem to be freakish Andrei Kirilenko look-a-likes. There was a Chinese guy playing yesterday who was 6'7", 175 lbs. 175 lbs!!! Get that guy a cheeseburger.
I Can Has Cheezburger?
Speaking of cheeseburgers, I can dunk a basketball, and I find the site icanhascheezburger.com to be hilarious. Does that make me unique? Are there any other ballers (or "ballaz") out there with a weakness for lolcats?
If you pass to Freddy Adu, he is going to try to shoot. Period. He reminds me a little of Brazilian striker Ronaldo. The US national team has needed a guy like that, with the attitude to put the ball in the net. It would be helpful if he would actually do that, but still...
Outlook for Team USA Going Forward
China's guards are so incompetent it's difficult to tell. The US won by 31, but it could have been 50. China was on fire from 3 to start (something like 5 of 7), while the US started 1 of 9. As strange as it may sound, this game was not as close as the score would indicate.
The USA's best five is Lebron, DWade, Carmelo, Chris Bosh... and I don't know else. I would play those four, and someone else who wouldn't get in the way (maybe Prince or Redd, or Boozer if they needed another big). That group got their hands on a ton of balls on defense (they better watch out for coming too soon on Manu's pump fake penetrations), and shared the ball and played aggressively and up-tempo on offense.
Kobe is too much of a ball hog when he's in; he actually was hurting the team. Chris Paul and Deron Williams weren't all that useful (although DWill did quixotically attempt to reenact Manu's dunk on Yao, but was rejected by the front of the rim). Dwight Howard misses so many FTs; better teams like Spain or Greece or Argentina will just foul him down low rather than letting him cram on their heads.