The United States' uproarious Gold Medal finish Sunday night in Istanbul mostly fell on deaf ears back home. Coverage of the monumental, redeeming triumph, from sea to shining sea, was as scant as a G-String.
Team USA boss Jerry Colangelo had to shame ESPN into sending a live broadcast crew to Turkey, so Mark Kestecher and Fran Fraschilla would stop calling the action from a studio in Bristol, Conn., according to Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum.
The Houston Chronicle, which serves the fourth, soon-to-be-third, largest metro area in the country, did not tease the Associated Press story and tournament recap on the front page, or even on the front of the sports section. You can guess which game took precedence.
I heard zero mentions of the accomplishment on any radio sports flashes. Not even a sentence. The U.S., mind you, had not won this event since 1994.
In most nations, the World Championship matters more than the Olympics. Consider it basketball's version of the World Cup.
We're America, damn it, and we're better than everybody else, even if our climbing national deficit says otherwise. People here would never let a game with world-wide implications spoil their Tom Brady or Peyton Manning fixes.
The top of the Chronicle's front page today featured a photo of Spaniard Rafael Nadal celebrating his U.S. Open win.
A guy from Spain winning a tennis tournament, albeit one of the biggest, was played up more than a group of Americans (who surrendered most of their summers to represent the red, white, and blue) winning gold.
That atrocity is a rant for another column. FIBA should consider hosting the event in late July or August to avoid coinciding with the apex of the NFL and college football seasons.
An earlier start date would also allow more rest for players headed to NBA and Euroleague training camps in September.
A number of international ballers were forced to fly straight from Turkey to their professional team's camp, a taxing, unnecessary proposition.
That, too, is a suggestion for another column. Americans figure to care again come 2012, when the men's basketball team aims to defend its 2008 Olympic gold medal.
A logical, interesting question accompanied the Sunday conclusion of the World Championship. With more than 35 players in the program, which players will make the London cut? Mike Krzyzewski and Colangelo will face some difficult decisions then.
The Naismith Trophy, secured thanks to Team USA's 81-64 victory against host Turkey, afforded the Americans a 2011 respite. Colangelo will not need to construct a roster during a potential NBA lockout. Thank goodness for that.
If league Armageddon ends before June 2012, and it better, the selection burden should weigh on the squad's decision makers like never before. When was the last time the U.S. basketball brass had to choose between more than 20 players from two different Gold Medal outfits?
If countless writers can tell Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri where to send Carmelo Anthony, still under a contract he signed, I sure as hell can speculate on the 12 players Krzyzewski and Colangelo will escort to London.
While picking just 12 finalists requires educated guesswork, with so many qualified candidates, such a list is not a shot in the dark.
I made my selections based on each competitor's performance and role in Beijing or Turkey. Playing time, attitude, and chemistry factored in to the equation. Before I attempted to solve it, I perused the census of available players on www.usabasketball.com.
I sorted and alphabetized it by two positions. Since individual duties become murkier and more expansive in FIBA competition, I did not distinguish between point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, or power forwards.
Chauncey Billups, an NBA one, started at the two in Turkey. Andre Igoudala, a career wing player, started at the four spot.
Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Jeff Green, Dwight Howard, Andre Igoudala, LeBron James, Al Jefferson, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, Lamar Odom, Kendrick Perkins, Tayshaun Prince, Amar'e Stoudemire, Gerald Wallace
A few things become obvious after examining that who's-who collection of elite talent. First, Krzyzewski could field a dominant NBA or world champion with a number of combinations of those players.
Second, not everyone who wants to represent Team USA in London will. Colangelo will dismiss some deserving contenders to trim the roster to 12.
The possibilities seem limitless with this cadre of All-Stars, youngsters with upside, and supporting cast members.
Both the 2008 and 2010 squads did this nation proud. Each group reached its golden goal via different methodologies.
The Redeem Team boasted astounding athletes and proficient to exceptional isolation players. Talent alone made them the favorites.
The supposed "B-team" boasted superior athletes but few players who excelled in one-one-situations. That necessitated suffocating pressure defense and a relentless fast-break attack.
Durant also administered more bailouts than the Barack Obama or George W. Bush administrations.
One player not listed above earned a spot on my projected 2012 roll call. The rest of them competed in Beijing or Istanbul. Continue reading to see my picks.