Bar too high for Team USA

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Aug 262004
 
Authors: Andrew Woerpel

The United States sent its athletes to Athens expecting them to

compete and do their very best. There isn’t one athlete from the

United States who would be considered a failure if he or she didn’t

win a gold medal, with the exception of the unfairly over-hyped

Michael Phelps and one team that used to be a guaranteed

gold-getter.

The only set of athletes from the United States that can come

home as failures, in the public’s eyes, is the members of the U.S.

men’s basketball team. The reason they will be ridiculed and

forever booed is the fact that the bar of striving for excellence

has been set too high. The “dream teams” before them were compiled

with the cream of the crop: the elite all-stars from all around the

NBA. Do the names Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird ring

a bell?

This year’s so-called “scream team” is compiled of third and

fourth all-NBA team members who have all the potential in the

world, but haven’t quite reached it yet. Allen Iverson and Tim

Duncan are the only true proven players on the team; they are also

the oldest.

This is the youngest team the United States has ever sent to

compete in the Olympic. The average age of a player on the team is

24 years old; Lebron James is the youngest member at 19.

The team has already lost two games thus far to Puerto Rico and

Lithuania. The astonishing thing about these losses is the fact

that United States hasn’t lost an Olympic basketball game since the

installment of NBA players. That is until now.

Unfortunately, the losses were not a surprise to most basketball

analysts around the world. Other countries were expected to push

the U.S. team to the limit, especially after Team USA’s

embarrassing showing at the world championships, where it finished

fifth.

It’s unfair for America to expect this team to be unstoppable.

It doesn’t have the talent that the “dream teams” normally have.

Numerous great players who were invited to Athens turned down the

chance to represent their country. Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter,

Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Ray Allen, Mike Bibby and Kenyon

Martin, to name a few, all came up with bogus excuses and turned

down the chance to play.

All I’m saying is this year’s Olympic team shouldn’t be looked

down on if it doesn’t come away with the gold, although I will

admit it’s going to be hard to witness us not win it all.

Every person on this team wanted to be in Athens for the pride

in representing his country, which is why I have to keep faith and

predict we will prevail and take gold at the 2004 Athens

Olympics.

Listen to ‘Melo, listen to Lebron and the rest of the team. They

have the confidence and hopefully that will help them overcome

their mishaps and finish out the way they were meant to, as

champions.

After Thursday’s victory against Spain, the team advanced to the

semifinals and is now one step closer from losing the title “Scream

Team” and once again being called the “Dream Team.”

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