USA vs Nigeria: Winners and Losers

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Lebron James #6 of United States shoots against Derrick Obasohan #13 of Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The United States' stunning 83-point win against Nigeria broke more than its share of records and put the rest of the world on notice.

More so, even, than it was on already–and that's really saying something.

Team USA has grown accustomed to blowouts, but this was hard to see coming by even the most optimistic measure. For any fan of basketball, there was a lot to like about this game. It was a rare shooting display and complete performance that exhibited true excellence on both ends of the floor.

Breaking down the winners and losers of this one may indeed be somewhat of a practice in stating the obvious, but it's worth examining anyway.


Winner: Team USA, the 2012 Edition

Yep, Team USA won alright. 

And, it won big.

But, this wasn't just another highlight reel. Nor was it just another step toward the Gold Medal. This was a statement, both to the rest of the world and those who've questioned how this team would hold up against the original 1992 Dream Team. 

That Dream Team never won a game by a margin of 83, and it never scored 156 points. In other words, the most recent iteration of this star-laden squad is looking pretty good in historical terms.


Loser: The Original Dream Team

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley made indeed be correct that their original superstar concoction would beat today's roster.

But, the numbers from this game wouldn't support that claim. The 1992 club never did anything quite like this, not even in its 68-point thrashing of Angola. Of course, it's not an entirely fair comparison. Perhaps the Dream Team would have looked just as good against the 2012 Nigerian team.

Frankly, though, it's hard to imagine anyone playing quite as well as Team USA just did.


Winner: Carmelo Anthony

His record-setting 37 points were one thing, but they don't even begin to describe just how special Anthony's performance was.

He was automatic from behind the arc, making 10 of his 12 three-point attempts. More impressively, he did all this damage in just 14.5 minutes of playing time. This was a scoring display for the ages from one of the NBA's very best scorers.


Loser: Competition

Games like this make you wonder why they even play some of these games. Perhaps there's some measure of patriotic satisfaction in watching this kind of demolition job but, after a historically dominant first half, part of you had to wish they would have just called the game and put the Nigerians out of their misery.

This wasn't a competition. It was a performance.

And while it would be downright un-American to have anything but appreciation for this kind of excellence, would it be too much for the guys on the bench to show this game some measure of humility? From the reactions on Team USA's bench, you'd think they were playing against an evenly-matched team or something.

Let's keep things in perspective. It's nothing to get too excited about. You just beat up on a developing nation represented by a guy just trying to secure another job in the NBA. 

And speaking of that guy...


Winner: Ike Diogu

Diogu has played for six different teams in a six-year career that's yielded mixed success. He's clearly had a rough time sticking, and these Summer Olympics are an opportunity for him to prove himself deserving of another opportunity.

Life as an undersized power forward without a perimeter shot is never easy.

So, it goes without saying that his 27 points and seven rebounds were the lone bright spot for a surely dejected Nigerian squad. Here's to hoping someone was paying attention.