Three reasons to be excited for Team USA


Photo: @USABasketball

At 9 p.m. tonight, the United States men’s basketball team kicked off against Spain in the final game of their pre-Olympic exhibition program in Tokyo. If you’re reading this on Sunday, there’s a good chance it’s happening right now. You can watch it on NBC Sports Network.

The buzz for this year’s Olympic team has been tempered for a variety of reasons, not least because fans have been forced to consider an uncomfortable question for much of the past week: are we… wrong this year?

That’s not an unfounded question either, given the men’s national team – which previously held a 54-2 record in Olympic exhibition games since they started allowing the pros to play in the Olympic Games. 1992 – gave up his first two games last weekend in Nigeria and Australia. The former was particularly embarrassing, as the United States had beaten Nigeria by more than 80 points nine years earlier. They returned to the cart with a 28-point victory over Argentina on Wednesday, but received more bad news on Friday with the announcement that Bradley Beal was leaving the team for reasons related to COVID. Over the weeks, it certainly was.

However, I am here to make the bold and daring stance that this NBA All-Stars team and an MVP is. do not bad, but in fact could still be very good. Also, even if they don’t bring in gold, I think they will still be quite fun to watch. You can grill in the comments, but please listen to me first.

Here are three reasons I’m excited to see American basketball hitting the pitch in Tokyo next weekend, and maybe you should be too.

1. ‘Cats representing

Let’s eliminate the obvious. This year’s men’s national team is now expected to have three former British players, with new addition Keldon Johnson join Bam Adebayo and Devin Booker, who is expected to join the team at the end of the NBA Finals. It’s the most cats on an Olympic basketball roster since 1948, when players Adolph Rupp (and Rupp himself, as a coach) made up the bulk of the roster because they had won the national title, and that’s exactly how it worked back then. There have been A TOTAL of three British players (Tayshaun Prince, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins) on the Olympic rosters since the 1960s. TIt is the first time in the professional era that any the college put three “alums” on the national team at the same time. It’s pretty cool!

It’s honestly a little wild that there hasn’t been more BBN representation in the past, especially since this is the third Olympics in the Calipari era. But conditions have lined up perfectly this year, with Booker and Adebayo ascending to timed star status with a year in which many of the league’s brightest stars refused to participate due to pandemic conditions, postponement of playoffs and other factors.

It’s especially cool for Johnson, who would never even have counted for the roster if the Olympics had been held last year as originally planned. At 21, he is the youngest player on the team and the youngest to make the U.S. Olympic roster since Davis in 2012.

We’ll see what kind of minutes he ends up getting, but Keldon’s energy could prove to be invaluable for a team sorely lacking in good vibes right now. I can’t wait to see him show what he has at the highest level of international competition.

2. The vibrations of the outsider

I know, I know, it’s absurd to say that a team made up of stars from the world’s biggest basketball league, having won six of the last seven gold medals, could be considered an underdog – but that’s not what I’m saying. I say they have outsider vibes. And no, I don’t mean they steal dogs with capes.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this team, as it seems from afar, is the lack of cohesion between the competing superstars (and also Draymond Green). But that’s just the thing: these guys got to where they are by being among the toughest competitors in the world, and no matter how pampered they may be in their superstar lifestyle, it has to be there somewhere. go. And losing back-to-back games to worse teams with worse players, and then hearing about it from across the country for two whole weeks, could potentially inspire a us-against-the-world mentality. It would help when you are, in fact, against the world.

At the very least, I think a drop in overall talent should make games more competitive this year, which could strengthen their will to win. In addition, there is this:

The G League is a chore, and it takes a dog to get by. Middleton and Johnson are those guys. As the first ex-G-Leaguers to represent Team USA, I expect them to bring this energy from day one.

3. The strangeness of the finals

There is a lot about this year’s Olympics that experts like us can stop and say “hey, this is very unusual! You will probably get used to it in the coming weeks, if you haven’t already. But one particularly unusual thing that I find hilarious about the timing of this year’s games is that they * literally * start the same week that the NBA Finals end.

Most of the U.S. squad probably don’t care, but three members – Booker, Middleton and Jrue Holiday – go straight from the final in Tokyo. This means that in a few days these guys will go from competing tooth and nail for 6+ games on the most important stage of their entire lives to becoming buddy teammates who must work together to bring home a gold medal. to a nation of fans who expect nothing less than perfection. This is madness !

I know NBA rivalries aren’t what they used to be on a personal level, but I refuse to believe that whoever loses this Suns-Bucks streak will feel good walking into that locker room on Saturday, knocking out a top tier player from the team that has just dragged its butt, and does not say a grudge.

It’s probably happened before, and maybe I read too much about it. But that feels like the makings of a very entertaining dynamic to me – and I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

That is my opinion. What do you say, BBN? Will you be watching the not-so-dreamy dream team this year?

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