Men’s basketball, ‘Dream Team’ struggles

By Matt Campbell
September 9, 2004

The National Basketball Association has displayed to the world that these top dollar players are overmatched in national competition.

Countries across the world send its best players to represent their nation. This year the United States sent the best that they could get. The fact is the United States is at war and to many players security was an issue. Many of our best players for whatever reasons declined the invitation from the U.S. Olympic committee to represent the country.

Allen Iverson in fact verbally expressed his desire to play on the U.S. Olympic basketball team, and the committee never gave him an invitation. However this year when top name players like Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant declined the invitation, the committee came crawling back to Iverson who ignored previous years being passed over and accepted the invite.

Through no fault of their own, the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team was overmatched. They were a group of very talented players; however there seemed to be no semblance of how the committee put together the team. The committee simply got the best they could for each position without regard as to whether the players could play well together.

Matched against other countries teams that play together throughout most of the year, minus one or two superstars that play in the NBA, the United States had little time to learn one another’s styles of play.

What became evident through the games is that NBA players are not paid millions of dollars for shooting ability or defensive skills. People come to see dunks and fast paced play with high scoring. The pure shooters of the NBA are foreign players, and come Olympic time the U.S. committee is slim pickings for decent shooters. Defensive ability is another story. The only defensive minded team was the Detroit Pistons who coincidentally won the national championship, but did the committee bring in big Ben Wallace? No.

The committee certainly needs help in picking players for the next Olympic games. I realize it was difficult to get the cream of the crop due to political and personal reasons. I truly believe in sending a team, and not necessarily the big names. Invite players who have compatible skills, and find a way for whoever is selected to have more time to practice together.

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Matt Campbell

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