Should the United States men’s basketball team not win convincingly in the upcoming Olympic Games, it would be akin to Barack Obama losing to John McCain in November’s election. Fans of each would think, “if we can’t win now, will we ever?”
Yes, the rest of the world’s basketball talent has developed exponentially since the first, and only Dream Team dominated the competition at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
For the most part, players are no longer in awe of our athletes. Yes, the United States has lost in every major world tournament since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Yes, having only one true big man on the roster may come back to haunt Colangelo, Krzyzewski, and the rest.
But come on now, we’re America and we want to win this time!
Forgive me for my blind belief in United States Basketball, but I just can’t picture a world where such a motivated pool of American talent brings anything less than gold home from Beijing.
Americans losing in basketball is like Michigan losing to a 1-AA school (oops!) or the Soviets losing in ice hockey (double oops!). To put it in better perspective, it's like losing to Argentina, Yugoslavia, Puerto Rico, Lithuania, Argentina (again), and Greece. Still, we hear that this team is different. This team cares. This team is better.
And this team is better. It's better constructed, better coached, better everything. But the games are still yet to be played.
While Kobe, LeBron and ‘Melo doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Michael, Magic and Larry, they will undoubtedly waltz through the preliminary group round and almost assuredly bring home the gold.
But beware, America. Four years from now simply trying harder might not be enough to get it done. Other countries have already passed us, and may do so again in the future.
Now that’s change you can believe in.