By Marcus Shockley
The question, beyond whether the team of NBA players who have joined in to play with Team USA at this year’s FIBA World Championship is good enough, or whether the team is lacking in depth of talent, is whether the United States is still the basketball powerhouse that they’ve always been.
Not even the Brazilian soccer team can claim the dominance of a global sport like the US has over basketball. This year, with most of the starting players from the Beijing Gold Medal run opting out this summer, there have been reams of paper devoted to the idea that the United States was putting out a team of lesser players and would struggle.
So, as the United States finished first in their group after defeating Iran today, let’s talk about that concept and set aside some pretty silly myths.
Yes, basketball around the world has gotten better over the past twenty years. Pundits will point to the fact that nearly every team the United States plays in FIBA competition will have at least one if not several NBA players on their roster. This is also true.
However, the United States team is made up of entirely of NBA players. Not one player. Not three players. All of the US roster is made of NBA players. And most of the players on the United States roster don’t just hold a roster spot, either. As much of an achievement it is for a player from Slovenia to land in the NBA, it’s an entirely different achievement to start for a playoff team.
So it puts into perspective the wins by the United States. Sure, they can lose, but when they do, it’s all based on their own play. The talents the United States has is just so over the top that the biggest concern is the lack of focus and discipline that too many NBA players have.
But it isn’t losing. Not even for the ‘B Team’.
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