So during a fantasy football draft last weekend, Luke made a couple of comments about how entertaining Bill Walton was during these Team USA blowouts in the tournament of Americas or "Team USA vs A Bunch Of Guys You Wouldn't Choose in a Pickup Game." Whatever it's called, after watching the Americans slaughter Argentina's practice squad, I'm now upset with him that he didn't let me know about these games sooner. Before tonight, I hadn't paid much attention at all because the USA wins every game by 50, so really, I'm not missing anything, right? Bill Walton would say I'm an idiot for thinking that, because he knows that's not true. I think you'd be surprised to know what else Bill Walton knows that you don't, because while the Americans are dominating on the court, Bill is dominating the mic with information you never thought you'd get from a basketball announcer.
Did you know Argentina is one of the few countries in the world that's bi-continental? Did you know it has almost 3000 miles of coastline? Did you know that's nothing compared to Canada, which has like 128,000 miles of coastline? Of course not. But Bill Walton does. Sure you knew that Steve Nash's wife is from Paraguay? But did you know that Paraguay is one of only two landlocked South American countries? Of course not. But Bill Walton does. Did you know Macaw, China is like Las Vegas- but 10 times bigger? Wait, do you even know what bi-continental means? Well you're an idiot, because Bill Walton does. And if you were watching the Team USA blowouts, you would know these things too because Bill Walton is telling you. Idiot.
So anyway, the basketball hasn't been even remotely competitive, and besides Bill Walton, that's been the most intriguing thing to me. Since the original and ONLY Dream Team of 1992, I've been wondering why the USA couldn't dominate anymore. And I don't think I've been the only one to wonder this. All the excuses we've been hearing is how the world has caught up, how international basketball is different from the NBA, and that these guys play way too many games during the season to have anything left for the summer. While all of this may be true, Team USA still had by far the best talent in the world- they just didn't seem to care. To me that was the biggest reason the Americans weren't winning and dominating- because they just seemed to cruise through, and didn't seem to care if they lost or not. They acted like they SHOULD win, but if they didn't, well we've got all these excuses to fall back on.
This team, however, looks like the first since the Dream Teamers that's hungry. They're not going out there like they SHOULD win, they're playing like they WILL win. The team is playing like a pack of wolves or pride of lions or pod of killer whales or- ok you probably get the idea. But they look like predators out there. They're not out there to showboat and "get theirs" and try and get on Sportscenter. The goal seems to be to beat everybody by as much as possible, and to challenge each other to be their best since the competition can't. I know, I know what a novel concept eh? Playing with fire and hunger in the spirit of competition? Let's just say it's refreshing.
There are two reasons for this change in attitude: Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd. Those two guys, healthy and on the court together for the first time, are the engine that's driving this team. The Sports Guy has been saying for years that a basketball game and team is only as good as its point guard(s), and for this team, that rings especially true. With a bunch of guys who are used to being the star of their team, Kidd is doing what he always does- makes everybody better. He's showing that when healthy, he's one of the two best pure points on planet earth (the other has a wife who's from one of only two landlocked South American countries!). Before there was nobody to guide this group of young prima donnas- whoops I mean NBA Super Stars!- like a Ferrari being driven by a middle-aged woman on a cell phone. Now they have a professional race car driver, like Ricky Bobby or Jean Girard, and not surprisingly it's making all the difference.
And Kobe? Without question the best player in the world right now. He's on another level entirely, playing like it's the NBA Finals, not a summer hoops tourney. That drive, fire, and maniacal competitiveness is what's been missing from so many previous USA Teams. Lebron and Melo are being forced to step up their games to keep up with Kobe and Kidd, and when those 4 are playing that well, it only makes sense that everyone else is falling in line behind them. It's the best international basketball Team USA has played since 1992, and as long as Kidd and Kobe are healthy for Beijing next summer (want a fun fact about Beijing? You should have been listening to Bill Walton!), they're going to run away with Olympic gold. And personally, I couldn't be more excited to watch it.
A couple of other random things I've noticed while watching the game tonight:
* Does Dwight Howard have the world's smallest head, or the world's broadest shoulders? It has to be one or the other, right?
* There's a guy for Argentina, I think it's this guy, who has a Borat-esque mustache. To call it glorious would be like saying Kate Beckinsale is mildly attractive. Somewhere, Adam Morrison is hanging his head in shame- well for that and because he sucked this year.
* Argentina's jerseys are...gawd-awful? Atrocious? I would almost rather watch the WNBA than look at these jerseys anymore.
* Speaking of Jer's favorite league, that's been one of the few good things about Canadian TV: no WNBA. It's like it doesn't even exist up here. Please don't tell David Stern.
Finally I just saw two commercials: the first was one of those Holiday Inn ones. Not the Holiday Inn Express ads, which are good, but the regular HOliday Inn ones where the guy doesn't recognize Cal Ripken and it's supposed to be funny? They've also done stuff with Joe Buck, which was also not funny. I thought maybe when it was converted to metric for Canadian TV it would be funny, but not true. I think they're the worst commercials on TV.
The other one was for the movie 3:10 to Yuma. I don't know what that means, but I DO know it's a western, and it has Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Um is it too early to start camping out at the theater waiting for this one to open? Sign me up!
Gleeman and The Geek #337: Wild Card Postgame Show
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