Hatering: USA beats Turkey 81-64

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country…is what we’re all conditioned to say. Claiming to hate your country is like claiming to hate Kevin Durant–a deviant thought, best to be kept secret until that transcendent moment when President Durant bans weekends by fiat. As a self-interested, yet self-pitying American, I want the best for America. But what’s best for America is so far from Istanbul, it might as well be exist in Constantinople.

Sorry, I was too young for the “miracle” of America fake-liking hockey. Sorry, I came of age in a time of job-deficient oligarchy, of 24-hour news squawking, of an American malaise so bad, it’s good we’re too dumb to comprehend the enormity. My future’s bleak, half my half-jaded friends twist in unemployment’s frigid wind–and I’m supposed to cheer our boys against Angola? Sure, why not? Bring on the distraction, hand over the Double-Down-scented-snuggie, let’s do this!

(Perusing roster, slumping shoulders, frowning, contemplating a sneering fart)

This distraction isn’t even distracting–it’s demeaning. If America had sent the real Olympic squad, I could cheer the representatives. But America sent its B team.That 2008 incarnation was our basketball pride, the 2010 version is some moonshine Coach K cooked up in his tub. Congrats to Mike for nailing the recipe but…

I now doubt FIBA’s import, and basketball’s export potential. If Team USA could do it with one hand tied behind the Atlantic, then our victory reflects poorly on the spoils. Perhaps Kevin Durant’s superhuman grace in these Worlds was half-mirage in this, the FIBA desert of mediocrity–though at least the earth is now safe from LeBron being so very very mean.

Durant-included, the tourney had moments. Brazil-Argentina thrilled us, Serbia-Spain added yet more heartbreak to Rubio’s Kahn-crippled career. Overall, basketball is good, and more basketball is more betterer. But America’s haphazard dominance of what should be the new World Cup hurts. It stings because I loved basketball more than I ever loved my country, so much so that I have an irrational stake in its growth overseas.

The sport has provided the inspiration I often find lacking in a post-industrial, nearly post middle class America. The game is the template for memories so powerful, they act as miniature time capsules. I will always remember Baron Davis’s dunk on Kirilenko. The throes of Alzheimer’s couldn’t rip that away. To my being, it’s as sturdy a time machine to Berkeley, CA: 2007 as Doc Brown could conjure. There was something in the individualism of that moment–how it punctuated Baron’s circus shot crescendo–that you will never find in another sport. Basketball has a wonderful, nearly life-affirming joy. I want the world to have that, and if our backups keep schooling them, I’ll know the world lacks it.

Twitter: @SherwoodStrauss

5 Responses

  1. Ultra-Humanite

    You do realize that many of the international teams sent their B-teams too right? Also it’s amazing how arrogant you can be after 2 consecutive victories for the US. I think the embarassment of previous efforts in the Worlds and Olympics have worn off a little too quickly.

    • dino-CVZ

      That’s the right point!
      BTW downgrading of the role of the FIBA World Championship is NOT the fact that USA is the top team, but — that FIBA itself made it minor. Unlike other sports, there is only 1 (yes, ONE!!) ticket to London – for the winner. If you know what’s beneath the surface you will KNOW why national federations did not have much interest in bringing best players there. Only the older Greece and brought whole team, the rest of the world was represented by B-teams.
      So in reality our B-team IS the strongest between B-teams. Not a big news, nothing destructive.

  2. Mike Meez

    Suns fan here, wanted to see if you had posted on signing Lou Amundson yet but guess not.

    Very somber stuff here, totally different perspective on the FIBA WC than on Valley of the Suns. And I see what you’re saying, especially in regards to American society, but I don’t view the FIBA competition so negatively. It’s true that the U.S. is still dominant in world basketball (though Team USA hadn’t won the FIBA WC since 1994), but other countries have made great strides. Most of the teams in the tourney this year had AT LEAST one NBA player and you couldn’t say that in years past. I would say that, if anything, putting together a competitive U.S. team should spur international basketball even more. Even though this wasn’t our “A-team” it was obviously really good and very organized (thank you, Jerry Colangelo, Godfather of Phoenix Sports). Plus, if you don’t think Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose aren’t some of our best players you haven’t been paying attention. The point is that the U.S. now takes international play seriously, which it wasn’t doing just a few years ago. Hell, we probably weren’t taking these things seriously even during the Dream Team days; the other countries were just way less talented back then. Now our team, even the A-team, actually has to practice together beforehand. And if the U.S. doesn’t take these tourneys seriously (and thus likely be a dominant team for the foreseeable future), doesn’t that take the luster off the whole tournament? The U.S. playing the big bad favorites will definitely motivate other countries’ players and fans more than if the U.S. says “I don’t give a shit” and lets Greece and Spain win. I don’t know where our country is headed right now, but I think international basketball is headed in the right direction.

  3. SacTownLEGEND

    Great, thoughtful post my man. You pretty much sum up what I saw in this tournament. Sure Durant was great, but who challenging him? Who raised their game to his level and tried to match his shots the way so many NBA players would even in the first round of the playoffs? If it’s this easy for the US to prove in GLOBAL dominance, why should we ever bother bringing out Kobe JaBron Wade or Pryzbilla?