No Place To Hide

I may not make it through this article because I'm angry this morning and I'm gambling that writing about it will make me feel better. Of course, if I don't make it through, you won't know that I failed because nothing will appear on the site that I have written. Let's hope I make it.

I have been upset at the state of basketball in this country for some time. My negative feelings are aimed principally toward the NBA which I feel is the root cause of the problem. I have often said, in an example of overstatement that I wish the NBA would go bankrupt tomorrow, that is if it couldn't manage to do so today.

The reasons for my venom against the NBA is twofold. First, I don't like their style of play that emphasizes one-on-one as often as possible while the players not involved in the play take a rest. A rest from what? I have noticed that NBA players don't even sweat like they used to and unless there is some medical explanation for this, I am forced to conclude it's because there has not been enough physical exertion.

Secondly, I resent the salaries the players receive, but if I'm going to embrace capitalism, I can't say they are overpaid. The marketplace will decide that. While there is a good argument that the players are paid what they are worth or they wouldn't be paid the astronomical sums they are paid, I don't have to like it and I don't.

Now this is a round about way of getting to the debacle that I watched from Athens yesterday. To say I was embarrassed is an understatement. Other than a brief period at the beginning where I think the U.S. led by two points, I don't think we led in the entire game. That wasn't bad enough. I counted three air balls and a shot that hit the side of the backboard in the first quarter. But the most humiliating aspect of the game was the unconcerned look on the faces of the players as the butt whooping was taking place. I don't expect weeping and gnashing of teeth, but come on. A look of concern and determination will do. I don't know this for a fact but I'll bet, other than the PR guard who plays for Utah, every U.S. player on the team earns more than the entire Puerto Rico team combined. We looked a little better at the beginning of the second half, but only reduced 3 points from the 22 point halftime deficit. I believe we trimmed it to eight points in the fourth quarter, but every time we tried to make a run, Puerto Rico would hit a clutch basket, usually a three.

We can try and make excuses all we want, and maybe there is a silver lining, but you'll have to look long and hard in order to find it. We have become so adept in this country in affixing blame for every screw up on somebody else that it is difficult to know where to begin. So why waste the time trying to find out who picked a U.S. team whose best 3 point shooter ranks 47th in 3 point shooting in the NBA. There is something to be said for players who originally indicated they would play and then, for whatever the reason, decided they would not.

Have I got any ideas for solution to the problem? Not any good ones but then I'm not David Stern. How in the world we have wound up with a situation where the NBA players union is against an age limit when, in fact, the absence of one hurts veteran players escapes me. The survival instinct would lead you to believe the player's union would take the opposite position. I have to laugh when Mr. Stern flirts with the idea of an age limit. He no more is interested in adopting an age limit than I am in running for president, but he knows how to deflect attention from his position. There is no way around it. Whether Mr. Stern likes it or not, that was his product on display to the world yesterday and it looked second rate, maybe even third rate. Many a CEO would find his job in jeopardy were his product to look as bad as the U.S. team did yesterday. Many are going to say that Mr. Stern can't be held responsible for putting the ball in the basket, but to hold him responsible is no more unfair than to hold other CEOs responsible for their products.

Ultimately, the only thing that will cause the NBA to change its style of play in the direction of team play is if the fans quit going to the games. TV is the thing that keeps the league solvent, and it's not likely to abandon its relationship with the NBA. The only other thing I can think of which might improve our chances in the Olympics would be to include in every players contract that, if selected, he must play on the Olympic team. That won't work because who wants somebody on the team who doesn't want to be there. Besides, it has become so easy to find excuses to get out of things such as medical excuses. Another one would be to have the NBA champion represent the U.S. in the Olympics. Not brilliant ideas, but the status quo ain't going to cut it.

So where does this all leave us? I'm not sure but I'm preparing myself for some more humiliations before the problem is solved. I'm just sorry that Larry and Roy had to be associated with the Olympic team when the problem came to a head.

How many days before we can see some real basketball?