Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Someone Please Enlist Scoop Jackson In a Deep Space Exploration Program

[Sometimes, I try to tackle an article but it's just so infuriating and ridiculous that I can't bring myself to do a good job. I'm just too frustrated, have nothing to work with because the article is just an abyss of stupidity, or both. This is one of those times. I'm admitting it up front- this post is going to suck. I'm not proud of it at all. Read if you want, but if you want to spend your four minutes doing something more productive, I'll briefly summarize it for you right now: Scoop Jackson is a fucking dolt.]

The US Mens Basketball team just won the gold medal they were (sort of) favored to win. It's a pretty good story. So if you're Scoop, how do you ruin it? QUICK! Take a fucking preposterously contrarian stance! I'm not even exaggerating- this might be the most outrageous article I've ever seen in that department.

Did the Redeem Team Really Come Through?

Yes. They went undefeated and won the gold medal.

Now what?

Quit your job immediately. Donate all your money and worldly possessions to charity, move to the mountains, and stop bothering people.

Now that the best $40 billion in sports has been spent. Now that IOC president Jacques Rogge can say "I told you so" about why the committee chose China. Now that Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have ascended to the Tigersphere, while Liu Xiang and Matthew Emmons have descended into an Olympic sorrow that always outweighs the joy most athletes leave with.

Completely irrelevant. This is like starting an English paper about Dante's Inferno with a series of random facts about Italy.

Now what?

Now that the United States has supposedly redeemed itself in the basketball world, now what?

Yes, you read that right, "supposedly."

How deep. You're really making me question everything I once thought I knew. Now that Michael Phelps SUPPOSEDLY just turned in the greatest individual performance in Olympic history... GASP. What if he didn't? WHAT IF, PEOPLE, WHAT IF?

The reason caution needs to be thrown in the post-Olympic detox is because it seems like, as a nation, we are getting a little caught up. Caught up in the belief that USA's gold medal in men's basketball brought back everything the country lost in the game during the past 16 years.

Sweet mother of fuck. Are you kidding me? What, exactly, did we lose in the last 16 years? One Olympic gold and a couple of World Championships?

Some are even going so far as to say this team could compete with, and on occasion beat, the original Dream Team. Again, too caught up.

Maybe. But who cares? Who is judging this team with that criterion? Can't we just be happy with what we've got?

Yes, the Redeem Team did what it was supposed to do.

Great. Here's a great opportunity to end the article, no hard feelings.

But now that we "re-hold the gold," is everything really back to the way it used to be? Back to the way it should be?

WHO CARES, WE FUCKING WON. 1992 isn't coming back anytime soon. We'll never be that far ahead of the rest of the world again.

It all depends on your definition of "redeem."

Semantics. Riveting journalism.

After it was over, Carlmelo Anthony said, "I think we did a hell of a job of putting America back where it's supposed to be, which is at the top of the world." LeBron James said, "If it wasn't for the determination and willpower we had, we wouldn't be back on top of the world, which is where we are."

The question is, back on top of the world or back as rulers of the world?

More semantics. Thank God this guy gets his writing published on the front page of the world's #1 sports website.

Ask yourselves: Was America's mission just to recapture the gold in Beijing, or to re-establish itself as the premier basketball superpower in the world?

Call me nuts, but I'm pretty sure the second goal is included in the first.

Ever since the Dream Team left Barcelona in August 1992, there has been a sweeping rush by the rest of the world to get its hands on what the U.S. used to hold sacred and hold down. And it did.

Right. Because the rest of the world used to suck at basketball, relative to the skill level of NBA players. Once they started learning the game, they were able to raise that skill level and combine it with some crafty teamwork to the point that the NBA players don't have a gargantuan advantage anymore. And they never will again, either. They'll have to settle for "just" winning gold medals while exerting a pretty reasonable amount of effort.

Now, with the U.S. finally getting the gold medal back, it seems that the proper global basketball pecking order is back in effect.

But what happens after this?


What happens in the 2010 FIBA World Championship? What happens in 2012, when it comes time to defend?


What happens when Kobe Bryant isn't around to make a four-point play with 3:10 left in a gold-medal game to save the team's asses?


The bottom line is it's not always about the win. Sometimes it's not that simple. In the case of Colangelo & Co., there will be doubts -- even as well as they performed -- and questions regarding whether or not they did enough to reposition the U.S. as not only the team that won, but a nation the rest of the world does not want to face on a 94-by-50-foot battlefield.

Here's an idea. Conduct a poll of all the coaches and players on all the international basketball squads that qualified for any of the last two Olympics or World Championships. Tell them that they have to play one team, in one game, with their lives on the line. If they don't win this game, they will be shot on the court once the final buzzer sounds. And ask them: which team in the world they would least like to play in this morbid situation. If any of them don't say the good ol' US of A, they are lying.

Sure, the U.S. beat Spain by 11 to win the gold. But the bigger picture is it beat a team by 26 points fewer than it did only a week before, in a game that should have meant much more to the Americans than the Spanish -- and in a game in which Spain's starting point guard sat out and a 17-year-old ran the show.

It's time to face facts, people: we can't beat the second best team in the world by 37 every time we play them.

Sure, the Americans beat the defending Olympic champion, Argentina, by 20 in the semis. But the bigger picture is they did so with Argentina playing without its star (Manu Ginobili) for most of the game due to an injury, and its second-best player (Andres Nocioni) virtually playing on one leg.

Uh …

Yeah, "uh..." Go ahead. Finish your thought.

Where's the dominance in that?

Neither of those games were realistically in question after halftime.

For the next four years, the rest of the global basketball community will basically think, quietly yet collectively, "The Americans got the gold, but … " In other words, because of the way it won, the U.S. left open the conversation for any and everyone to finish that above sentence with, " … if Ginobili hadn't gotten hurt, or if Calderon had played, Argentina or Spain probably would have beat them."


Yes, you read that right, "beat them."

I know I read it right. I'm fluent in English. Thanks for being so dramatic.

As in beat the USA, the Re-Dream Team. Even with the gold in its hands, the one thing that can be taken away from this Olympics is that the U.S. is back to being great, but not much greater than everyone else.

Yes, because everyone else doesn't suck as badly anymore.

Teams like Argentina might go so far as to place an asterisk next to this victory. Because, in their minds, they know.

Those are the most ridiculous two sentences in the history of sports journalism.

And, to be honest, that's not what we as a nation needed. The U.S. team needed to redeem itself -- not just to be the best, but to be the best by a wide margin.

1992 isn't happening again, Scoop. It's not. Deal with it.

Yes, the world has gotten much better at a game we love to call ours, and there probably never will be another era when the U.S. beats teams by 30-40 points when medals are on the line.


But if the U.S. team is not able to expose Pau Gasol in a gold-medal game the way the Celtics did in an NBA Finals, then it's not yet time for us to start believing our own hype.

I couldn't care less how the X's and O's break down. I care who won.

And until the rest of the world is back to feeling that the U.S. is unbeatable in basketball,

This will never happen again.

until the U.S. separates itself from the rest of the world by sending a message saying "this is about more than a gold medal, this is about true redemption,"

Is "true redemption" in any way related to the concept of "True Yankee(s)?"

then we as a nation can't feel confident that the gold medal we just won is going to be ours again four years from now.

I sure am. In four years, I can guarantee you the US will field the most talented team at the London Olympics. Does that guarantee we will win the gold? No. Does it make me confident we will win the gold? Yes. And do I alone speak for the nation as a whole? Yes. The end. Scoop Jackson: in many ways, even stupider than Jemele Hill.


Jack M said...

I read this piece by scOOPS jackson (see what I did there?), and knew that there was no way I could get home in time to be the one to post about it.

Some thoughts:

1. That whole asterisk thing is such bullshit it's ridiculous. How many teams that lose "close" games/series don't think that they would've won 9/10 out of 10 times if [insert excuse] didn't happen? Maybe every single one of them.

2. I also enjoy how he says "but what happens when Kobe's gone? We're doomed!" Thereby completely ignoring the fact that USA could probably field a team of all players 25 and under that would win by huge margins. Meanwhile, he doesn't ask "What will Argentina (a team that runs maybe 7 deep) do when Ginobli quits international play?"

3. Scoop Jackson is a really really bad sports journalist.

dan-bob said...

What happens in the 2010 FIBA World Championship? What happens in 2012, when it comes time to defend?


larry, thank you for reinventing the lollercoaster. i'm all set up for a great day after starting my morning off with that one.

Tonus said...

"The reason caution needs to be thrown in the post-Olympic detox is because it seems like, as a nation, we are getting a little caught up."

I'm sorry, maybe Scoop can rephrase this comment... in English this time. How do people manage to get degrees in journalism and paying jobs at ESPN when they can't even write a coherent sentence? That's inexcusable.

But Scoop's attitude sounds a lot like Doug Collins' color commentary during the games I watched. "The US seems to be a bit sloppy, they can't let this team hang around." Dude, they're up by 25 in the third quarter, what are you talking about? If the US team wasn't up by 60 points with three minutes to go, Collins would sound as if he worried that they might not win.

People, the world closed the gap in basketball YEARS ago. Get over it. Well, maybe Angola hasn't closed the gap, but most other countries have.

Jeff said...

Scoop Jackson thinks everything he writes is extremely profound.

Anonymous said...

i agree with everything in this article except the claim that the gold medal game was never seriously in doubt after the first half.

because 2-point games in the final 5 minutes are always sure things, amirite?

Larry B said...

Guilty as charged. You got me.

Iridescence said...

This dude "Scoop" watching at the end of the World Series last year:

"Yeah the Red Sox won the championship and they were pretty dominant against the Rockies but the Indians almonst beat them and there are a lot of other good teams out there you know and the Sox just don't dominate enough. ....I'm worried! I mean some of those other teams are pretty good and might actually beat the Sox next year."

My response would be "Scoppy, you MORON, no one wants to see a team totally dominate with no competition, it's the definition of boring!"

(I purposely picked a team I like to show that even in this case I would not want them to totally dominate for season after season.) I'm happy for the US team won but also happy that the rest of the world has closed the gap and made international basketball sort of entertaining to watch.

cs said...

"What happens when Kobe Bryant isn't around to make a four-point play with 3:10 left in a gold-medal game to save the team's asses?"

Was the US down by 3 at this point, and neither team scored for the rest of the game? Cause then the point kind of makes sense.