Sports

Shame on Team USA basketball, NBC for this all-time debacle

Before we get to the 8,000-pound pink hippopotamus in a single nook of the room, let’s deal with the 7,000-pound purple rhinoceros within the different nook.

Really, NBC? Peacock?

Here is the topic of seven completely different emails I woke as much as Sunday from basketball-fan pals, all precisely the identical besides for the number of phrases throughout the parentheses: “WHAT THE [HECK] IS PEACOCK?”



Of course, perhaps NBC knew one thing none of the remainder of us knew when it determined to farm out the U.S. Basketball Team’s Olympic debut in opposition to France Sunday morning, assigning it to a channel often reserved for the binge-watching antics of Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott. Because it would’ve completed Greg Popovich and his crew an enormous favor.

In its personal approach, France 83, USA 76 was the fashionable equal to the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas struggle of Feb. 11, 1990, which additionally befell in Tokyo and which additionally befell with nearly no one watching again residence. Maybe USA Basketball isn’t Invincible Iron Mike anymore however it’s nonetheless beautiful after they lose, however no extra beautiful than NBC maintaining it off free TV. This isn’t crew handball, in spite of everything (all due respect to crew handball).

As for the pink hippopotamus? Look, this isn’t Frederic Weis’ France crew anymore. France beat the U.S. on the 2019 World Cup in China. It options three terrific NBA gamers in Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the Celtics’ Evan Fournier and the Clippers’ Nicolas Batum (and likewise the Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, who was an harm scratch). We knew the U.S. was weak, particularly after pre-Olympics pleasant losses to Nigeria and Australia.


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But this was somewhat one thing completely different. The U.S. had beforehand lost 5 video games in an Olympics historical past that stretches again to 1972. Each one was somewhat completely different. The first Russian loss, in Munich 1972, was a heist, however it was preceded by a unprecedented last-ditch comeback (capped by two pressure-packed Doug Collins free throws) that put them in position to have their hearts crushed.

The ’88 loss to Russia in Seoul was a routine basketball loss: Russia was merely higher that evening. The three losses in 2004, in Athens, included a shocking blowout (by Puerto Rico), a payback recreation 4 years within the making (Lithuania) and a semifinal loss to Argentina through which the winners merely outplayed the losers.

This was one thing else.

Team USA shockingly fell to France on Sunday.
Team USA shockingly fell to France on Sunday.
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This was a 74-67 U.S. lead with 3 minutes and 41 seconds to go. This was a 16-2 French run to finish the sport.

This was USA Basketball choking, in a approach that’s by no means occurred earlier than, not on the Olympics. It is nearly beautiful to consider {that a} crew with Kevin Durant, Dame Lillard and company couldn’t shut out a seven-point recreation, underneath 4 to go. But it occurred.

(Or no less than it allegedly occurred; we’re nonetheless making an attempt to contact one the 16 American households that has Peacock.)

“I think that’s a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the balls and win,” Popovich mentioned. “We’ve got to work for it just like everybody else. And for those 40 minutes, they played better than we did.”

Very quickly, Popovich goes to have to come back to phrases with the truth that he isn’t teaching Hickory High. When you settle for the job teaching USA Basketball, you inherit the historical past: three straight gold medals, 15 total (out of the 18 the U.S. has competed in), 25 straight wins (till Sunday), 138-5 all-time document.

Now 138-6.

“France is a good team and they play very well together,” mentioned Jrue Holiday, the one U.S. participant who actually did cover himself in glory, scoring 12 key fourth-quarter factors after arriving in Japan contemporary from the Bucks’ championship celebration solely hours earlier than tip-off. “There were times we were up ten or so and we have to keep going. I feel like we’ll get better every game.”

He’s in all probability proper. This can be proper: that’s now not merely a hope. It is now, formally, a necessity.


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