Should We Even Be Surprised?
Our boys lost to Greece in the semifinals of the FIBA world championships, which leads the Unknown Column to three questions:
1) Should we even be suprised anymore?
2) Does anyone even care?
3) Where are the cheerleaders?
To address the first question, I think the element of surprise has officially worn off. We haven't won a global basketball title since the court was surrounded by a cage. OK, it hasn't been that long, but it's been quite a while now. We may produce the largest amount of talent, but we, simply, don't play the best team basketball. We just don't. In the past, the U.S. failures were often blamed on poor attitude or lack of preparation or the most obvious reason - the inclusion of Stephon Marbury. (Worst idea ever.) But this squad was led by Mike Krshljkdfhozsfoski and a roster full of guys ready to work hard, buy into the system, and keep their yapping to themselves. Everything seemed to be in place. We finally realized that we can't win these global titles simply by showing up anymore and all the necessary moves to deal with this realization were made. And it still wasn't good enough.
As for the second question, not only do people, for the most part, not care, but, for whatever reason, many Americans seem to root against our basketball team. I'll admit it, I do. I'm not sure why. I think because in the past it was hysterical and gratifying to see the loudmouthed, brash, cocky NBAers who were all about flash (the dunk) over substance (defense, fundamentals) get beaten by teams of no-names who played the game the right way. In a sense, it was a triumph of justice. In a world where the shallow so often triumphs over true quality, it was nice to see things, for once, work out the way they should. When quiet, unassuming, hard-working Argentines or Puerto Ricans beat the carefree, loud, lazy Americans, it was a triumph of right over wrong, of good over evil, of substance over flash. It made it easier to put your head on your pillow at the end of the day comfortable in knowing that everything your parents taught you about hard work and character was true.
For many, including myself, this sensation has yet to wear off. Plus, it's always easy to root for the underdog, and despite our repeated failings, we're still the heavy favorites every time we step on the court. (Or are we anymore?)
Besides, few sights are as gratifying as when Krshjkhjkhuski gets that constipated, "oh shit, I'm not influencing the refs enough and I'm about to lose" look on his face. Oh, how I love that look.
Finally, about those cheerleaders. Where are they? I'm absolutely positive Greece and Spain have oodles of hotties just waiting to shake it for their countries. Right? They're patriots. They're full of pride. So let's do the right thing here and get them out there. The world demands it.
In all seriousness, Greece-Spain should be a fun, tight final. Both teams have yet to lose and now they'll collide. I'm looking forward to it.