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franklin county times

COLUMN: Fans turning against USA men's team

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Aug. 21, 2004
The number of people who are against the USA men's basketball team is becoming disturbing.
Americans are actually rooting against their team.
People throw around reasons such as they make too much money or they can't shoot or they don't know how to play the game as why they dislike the team.
The too much money argument just doesn't qualify as a reason to be against Team USA. Yes the players make millions on top of millions when playing in the NBA, but they are not getting a red cent while playing for their country.
The only people making money off of this is the U.S. basketball organization as the cash rolls in from the sales of jerseys and other junk from this one-shot team.
And since when did a lot of dough make you a bad basketball player?
In his prime, Michael Jordan was cashing checks that rivaled most country's fiscal earnings for a year, but he still won six NBA championships. And that was with a two-year hiatus to run around in a minor league ballparks like a blind chicken.
The team's inability to shoot is true, but here's the kicker this deficiency is the fault of the brain trust that assembled this team, which also brings in the argument of the team being unable to play the game.
The 2004 version of the "Dream Team" wasn't assembled to play international basketball.
It started out on the right foot with Tim Duncan to play a classic center with his back to the basket and banging down on the blocks, and Allen Iverson the combination point/shooting guard who is nothing but a ball of energy on the court.
But then those in charge went out and got the same players to fill out the rest of the roster.
Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Lamar Odom and Dwayne Wade are all the same guy.
These are slashers who want to drive to the basket every time they touch the ball shooting and passing be darned.
This is not how you assemble a team. All of those guys attack from the same spot on the floor and in the same way, allowing opponents to do nothing more than put bodies in the lane to stop them.
The team can't shoot or pass because team USA didn't recruit any shooters or passers.
Where's Anthony Peeler or Brent Barry the NBA's top two three-point shooters last year. Or how about Ben Wallace or Eric Dampier the league's No. 3 and 4 rebounders in 2003-04?
Oh, that's right these guys don't move the merchandise or boost TV ratings.
Sure all four of these guys would fill desperately needed roles on this team. You know, guys who can knock down the long-range shot or snatch rebounds and start breakaways.
But let's not offer them a spot on the team, let's just get more swing men who can drive to the hoop and throw down highlight reel dunks. At least that's what we are told these guys can do, they just apparently are choosing not to do it.
Then there's the problem with Larry Brown as the team's coach. Brown is a basketball genius who has forgotten more about the game than most people will ever know, but he is wrong for this team.
The man who guided the Detroit Pistons to the NBA Championship by playing to his team's strengths thug defense and rebounding can't find Team USA's strength.
These guys are athletes, let them run. Play full-court defense the entire game, you have 12 high-caliber players empty their gas tanks on the court.
Instead, Brown is trying to make them play a half-court game and is falling right into other teams' traps.
There is also the problem of Brown not using his bench. The Pistons head man is notorious for not playing rookies on his NBA teams, and it seems to be rolling over to the Olympics.
News flash Larry, U.S. basketball in the Olympics is not a project, it is a one-time deal.
You need to get James, Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Emeka Okafor and Amare Stoudemire off the bench and on the court. You are not going to teach these guys anything in the short time they will be with you, but you can use their skills.
The USA squad does have a lot of deficiencies, but these are still high quality players.
They are rich, famous stars, but they are also the ones who agreed to play for the country.
There were plenty of NBA All-Stars who were asked to play for the team who said no, but these guys said yes. Heck, Iverson even petitioned to be on the team.
This may be the anti-Miracle on Ice crew, but they are still ours and deep down everyone wants the USA to win gold on the hardwood.

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