Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces

Puerto Rico the team to beat? Not really

August 18, 2004

The squad that in recent Olympics was known as the Dream Team just had a big old nightmare.

Granted, this year's United States men's basketball team doesn't have all the regular NBA guns it has used since pro players started competing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Still, when the U.S. sent amateurs before '92 they had won nine gold medals, a bronze and a silver all-time in Olympic competition. In fact, the 1988 team was the first to win a bronze.

And, the team was 109-2 all-time entering this year's Games.

Then suddenly came its opening game in pool play against Puerto Rico.

Hmmm. I guess if you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Yes, you remember Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory that has been topic of discussion in recent years of becoming the 51st state.

Perhaps politicians should get to work on that item soon. In the event several NBA players opt not to participate again, we'll have some good acquisitions in time for the 2008 games in Beijing.

Whether NBA players who didn't participate did so because they were concerned about terrorist attacks or they had another excuse, their services could have been used.

At least in the opening game.

Puerto Rico won by 19 points. Losing by a bucket or two would be a little more understandable, but this team isn't in a good position.

Their next game was against the home team -- Greece -- on Tuesday. The Americans will had to face five on the floor and about 12,000 in the stands.

The United States certainly still can win a gold medal. After all, the team does include Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Emeka Okafor.

But no longer does the U.S. have its dominating presence.

The Mirror's deadline came before the U.S. and Greece tangled in Athens, so either the Americans are back to .500 or in a world of hurt.

One thing's for certain. Count on the home team and other Olympic squads to not view the Americans as Greek gods anymore.

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Michael Phelps was a treat to watch after winning his first gold medal Saturday in swimming medley event.

He won't catch Mark Spitz's seven gold medal record this year, but he is a remarkable athlete who still could take home plenty of medals.

The only disappointment surrounding the Phelps hype is his participation in the 4x100 relay. Phelps was a late replacement for Gary Hall Jr., a three-time Olympian who was taken off the relay at the last minute for the 19-year-old phenom. Phelps has showed his prowess in everything else and he wasn't the reason the team had to settle for a bronze, but you go with what got you there.

It seemed Hall has shown he belongs.

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If you can't enough of the Olympics, don't forget that coverage doesn't stop with NBC. Its other channels, CNBC and Bravo, also offer coverage.

It's too bad Bravo's coverage doesn't include the Fab 5 of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" providing color commentary alongside James Lipton of "Inside the Actor's Studio."

I can guarantee the NBC Peacock would see improved ratings.

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