After 58 Straight Gold Medals in Basketball
American Niggers get the Bronze
Hint: Puerto Rico's Point Guard Carlos Arroyo ain't a nigger
WHITE MEN in Argentina got a Gold Medal where WHITE MEN in the US used to dominate: basketball. But the US sent niggers to represent us in the Olympics and ended up with a Bronze Medal.
WHITE MEN in Puerto Rico beat American niggers 92 to 73.
Puerto Rico 92, United States 73
August 15, 2004
This year's team, weakened by defections and rejections of 12 top players, had opened its pre-Olympic tour of Europe with a 17-point loss to Italy and a last-second victory over Germany -- a pair of games in which their vulnerability to a tight zone defense was clearly exposed.
The U.S Olympic team's record now stands at 109-3.
Italian papers celebrate shocking win over U.S. Olympic basketball team
4 agosto 2004 - CANADA NATIONAL PRESS ROME (AP) - Italian papers celebrated a shock victory over the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team, claiming the "Dream Team" mantle for Italy's players. "We are the Dream Team," read the front-page headline of Wednesday's sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport. "A magnificent Italy humiliates the USA," the paper said.
"The Dream Team is blue," said Corriere dello Sport on its front page, referring to the Italian national team's colours. "The Martians from the USA are overwhelmed." The defending Olympic champion Americans were routed 95-78 by Italy in Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday - the most one-sided loss ever for a U.S. squad fielding NBA players. The Italians were clear underdogs despite a good record in international play.
In a soccer-obsessed country, their performances usually win little attention. Corriere held back from predicting Olympic glory for the Italian team. "No, it's not that we will win the Olympics because of this," the paper commented. "But Italian basketball has never lived a night like this." ï¿½ The Canadian Press 2004
The so-called Dream Team suffered through a nightmare game in Athens, losing to Puerto Rico by 19 points, the first loss since the U.S started sending NBA stars to the Olympics. The American squad trailed by 22 at halftime and could never make up the gap.
U.S. men's basketball supremacy exposed Loss to Puerto Rico in opener proves opponents won't have to fear team of NBA stars again
Dusan Vranic / AP No defeat in American sports history has been as humiliating as the U.S. men's basketball team's loss to Puerto Rico Sunday, NBCSports.com's Mike Celizic writes. COMMENTARY By Mike Celizic MSNBC Updated: 12:36 a.m. ET Aug. 16, 2004ATHENS, Greece - The United States has suffered upset losses in team sports before and will again. But none has ever been as humiliating as the blowout loss Sunday night in basketball to Puerto Rico.
The small arena that hosted this historic debacle wasnt even full for the game that laid to rest any lingering misconceptions about the United States' continuing supremacy in world basketball. Even much of the media that has helped foster the notion that the United States was invincible at the game it invented and disseminated around the globe didnt show up.
Why should they have bothered? The game was miles away from the heart of the Olympics, in an arena that was more like a gym tucked into a corner of an old U.S. Air Force base on the outskirts of Athens. And Michael Phelps was swimming at nearly the same time. There would be plenty of time to write about this latest edition of the Dream Team, which couldnt possibly lose to the likes of Puerto Rico.
Related link U.S.-Puerto Rico box score U.S. suffers worst-case scenario loss WP's Wilbon: U.S. needed shooters, but brought glitz
So few thought it mattered that only Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson from among the NBAs biggest stars bothered to come to Athens. Americans are the greatest basketball players in the world and should play that way. Even if their average age is 23.6, they are a team replete with players who have proved themselves in the cauldron of championship play.
Live Vote Which is more disappointing?
Michael Phelps not having the chance to break Mark Spitz's mark of 7 gold medals.
The U.S. men's basketball team losing for the first time in the Olympics with NBA players against Puerto Rico.
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No one really believed this outfit was a dream, but it had inherited that name from the original 1992 squad, and it carried a winning streak by U.S. professional players of 58 straight Olympic contests. By the end of the night, not only was it not a dream, but it was also exposed as not even being a team in any sense other than that they wear the same uniforms and ride the same bus to the game.
In what the rest of the world views as the biggest basketball tournament of them all, Not-a-Team USA came out flatter than a drunk at a karaoke bar. Its offense consisted of someone usually Allen Iverson or Stephon Marbury driving the lane, getting the defense to collapse around him, then dishing the ball to an open man on the perimeter, who then shot an air ball.
"We came out flat," admitted Dwyane Wade. "I dont know why."
Maybe it was because a lot of the members were out late the night before, being big celebrities and having a whole lot of fun at Sports Illustrateds big party. Maybe it was because they believe their own hype.
More likely it was because they simply arent a team, but a collection of people with a lot of individual skill, but little grasp of the fundamentals of the game.
You could see the difference between a team and a collection of celebrities during the pregame warm-ups.
The United States had seven basketballs on the court for 11 guys Emeka Okafor, who didnt play, spent the warm-up period getting his back kneaded by a trainer and they used their time to hoist up random jump shots.
The Puerto Ricans had three balls out and they practiced passing, setting picks, and spotting up for jumpers.
You didnt know watching the scene how the game would unfold. Puerto Rico is still a team that had never beaten U.S. professionals. Its point guard is the Utah Jazz's Carlos Arroyo, not well known before the game, a national hero on his home island after it was over.
But the game went like the warmup. Puerto Rico ran plays, worked the ball around, blocked out, did all the little things that make big differences. The U.S. players stood around on the perimeter waiting for Iverson or Marbury to draw the defense with a drive. When that happened, the guards kicked the ball out to an open man, who threw up either an airball or one that hit nothing but iron.
Thats the beginning and end of the U.S. offense. It wasn't even particularly adept at getting the ball inside to Duncan. It turned the ball over more often, gave up more fastbreak points, committed more fouls, had fewer steals, and, for much of the game, was barely outrebounding its smaller opponents.
At halftime, the United States was down by 22. It would play furious defense in the second half and would put on a run that got the deficit down to eight points late in the game. But it couldnt close the gap, couldnt stop Arroyo, and ultimately got blown out.
"I dont know what we can get out of this," said U.S. coach, Larry Brown, who surely deserves better than this outfit. "Were going to find out what were made of and what it means to truly be a team."
It may be too late for that. Unless these guys can learn how to pass and set screens and run plays in the next couple of days, they are going to be hard pressed to make the medal round.
Richard Jefferson, who did not distinguish himself, thought that the loss was simply an aberration. "You know Allen Iversons going to knock down shots," he said. "You know Im going to knock them down."
Actually, we dont know that. We only know that they lost to Italy and needed a miracle shot at the buzzer to beat Germany in a pre-Olympic tournament.
You have to wonder what Shaquille ONeal, Kevin Garnett, Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and the other stars who couldnt be bothered to come were thinking when the saw the debacle. You have to wonder if Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan retched at halftime or waited until the end of the game.
But you dont have to wonder if any team in the world will ever fear a U.S. team again. They wont. They learned Sunday night they dont have to.
Mike Celizic writes regularly for NBCSports.com and is a free-lance writer based in New York.
U.S. loss reveals new world order
Q. What in the world happened to the U.S. basketball team against Italy? Is the Dream Team doomed?
A. Coach Larry Brown must have been wondering if arch-rival ref Bennett Salvatore was in the house for the disaster in Koln, Germany.
There is no other way to put this Team USA certainly did not play the right way.
LeBron James showed off some nice matador defense, the Americans seemed very out of sync, and poor Brown was left to yelling above the very pro-Italia crowd.
The Dream Team is not doomed. But this is not the butt-kicking Dream Team that Americans have become accustomed to watching. There is a new reality in basketball, and Brown knows it.
The U.S. is not the epicenter of hoops. There are a lot of places, such as Italy, Serbia, Argentina, Brazil and China, where the game is being seriously played.
And for these countries, there is nothing better than dropping a world-class whupping on the Americans.
Its not enough anymore for the U.S. just to show up and dunk over people. Most teams in the Olympic tournament will have strong NBA players.
Just ask Ben Wallace. He was part of the U.S. team in 2002 that finished sixth in the World Championships in Indianapolis.
Brown knows his young Americans, players such as Carmelo Anthony and James, might receive a rude lesson in the Olympics. Nobody cares that theyre the new hot shots of the NBA.
If the U.S doesnt play better team basketball, theyre going down, even with a Hall of Fame coach such as Brown screaming orders.
Q. Whats next for Brown and his crew?
A. Brown will get to say hi to former Piston Mehmet Okur on Sunday, as the U.S. team travels to Istanbul to play Turkey.
The game, which will be shown live starting at 2 p.m. on ABC, should be an interesting test.
Aside from Okur, the Turks also will have Hedo Turkoglu on the floor.
Wonder if Brown will keep track of how many perimeter shots Memo takes?
Q. What made Chris Webber so hopping mad at Los Angeles?
A. This is what he said when he was asked if he wanted to play for the Lakers:
I heard somebody said I said I wanted to play for the Lakers. Thats a lie. First of all, I dont want to play for L.A. Second of all, I never volunteered my services to play for L.A. I dont want to play for L.A. Thats the enemy. When I was a free agent, if I wanted to go to L.A., Id have gone to L.A.
A. Whoa there, C-Webb. L.A. isnt a bad place to play basketball, unless youre the Clippers. Apparently, the years of the heated Kings-Lakers rivalry have soured Webber on L.A.
The Associated Press Updated: 2:59 p.m. ET Aug. 31, 2004ATHENS, Greece - Bronze is better than nothing. Thats one Olympic lesson the U.S. mens basketball team was able to understand.
The Americans took the third-place game seriously Saturday night, earning some revenge and salvaging some self-respect in a 104-96 victory over Lithuania.
Although they didnt get what they wanted in Athens, they didnt embarrass themselves in their finale, either.
You want to win the whole thing, but youve got to cherish the fact that you were able to win something, Allen Iverson said. You come all the way over here to Greece and then go home with nothing? Thats a lot worse.
Defeating one of three teams that beat them earlier in the tournament, the U.S. got 22 points from Shawn Marion, 15 from Iverson and 14 apiece from Lamar Odom and Stephon Marbury.
ALSO ON THIS STORY U.S.-Lithuania box score WP: Iverson blasts NBA stars who stayed home
The Americans key to victory was their shooting, as it was in their quarterfinal win over Spain. After missing all five of their 3-point attempts in the first half against Lithuania, they made eight in the second half four of them in the final quarter.
The 104 points was the most by any team in the mens tournament, topping the 102 the U.S. scored against Spain two nights earlier in the quarterfinals. They were knocked out of gold-medal contention by Argentina in an 89-81 semifinal loss Friday.
I think we ought to be real positive about them and what they did, the commitment they made and the sacrifice they made, U.S. coach Larry Brown said. I said this before: This is the greatest time I ever had as a coach, and I dont know if Ive ever been more proud of a group of people after tonight than this group. It has not been easy.
The start of the game was delayed 48 minutes after both teams arrived wearing white uniforms. It also included a second half that started with no coaches on the American bench. Brown emerged from the tunnel 50 seconds after play started, and his assistants beat him out by only 30 seconds.
They changed the clock on us, and Ive got two new hips, the 63-year-old Brown said. We were in a slow jog trying to get here.
Strange stuff, but not quite as weird as the Americans dropping three games after they had lost only two in the previous 68 years. Its the first time since pro players were added for the 1992 Dream Team that the United States is going home without gold.
For the Lithuanian team, the defeat was the second in a row after it won its first six games. The loss denied them a fourth consecutive bronze medal.
Emotional Moments: Aug. 29 Trouble mars the marathon but the Olympic spirit prevails.
In general, fourth place is very good for a country like ours, but to lose the last two games hurts, Sarunas Jasikevicius said. Could have been better, could have been worse, I guess.
The U.S. team was saying pretty much the same thing on a day the U.S. women won their third straight Olympic basketball title.
Wearing red after their replacement uniforms arrived before Lithuanias, the Americans opened an early 22-13 lead and created fast-break opportunities with their pressure defense. But Lithuania answered with three consecutive 3-pointers one of which became a four-point play to take a 23-22 lead.
Live Vote Who's the MVP of men's hoops in Athens?
Manu Ginobili, Argentina (19.7 ppg, 2.9 apg)
Pao Gasol, Spain (22.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Tim Duncan, U.S. (12.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Yao Ming, China (20.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg)
Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico (18 ppg, 5 apg)
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Live Vote Who's the MVP of men's hoops in Athens? * 11133 responses
Manu Ginobili, Argentina (19.7 ppg, 2.9 apg) 52%
Pao Gasol, Spain (22.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) 14%
Tim Duncan, U.S. (12.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) 8%
Yao Ming, China (20.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg) 16%
Carlos Arroyo, Puerto Rico (18 ppg, 5 apg) 10%
Tim Duncan stared at the referees in disbelief after his first foul, just as he had after almost every call against him during the tournament. When he was whistled for another moments later on what appeared to be a good call, he stood along the lane with his back to the basket and the referee while a Lithuanian player took his free throws.
Duncan stayed on the bench for the entire second quarter, which ended with the Americans ahead 49-44 after they forced 13 turnovers and made eight steals.
I am about 95 percent sure my FIBA career is over, Duncan said, using the acronym for the sports international governing body. Ill try not to share my experiences with anyone.
Lithuania started hitting 3-pointers and opened a 65-58 lead in the third quarter before the United States came back with an 8-0 run. Duncan went to the bench with his fourth foul with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter and the score 67-67, and the Americans led 83-82 when he returned with 6:08 left.
A pair of 3-pointers by Marion and Odom came during a 9-3 run that put the Americans up for good, and their defense held Lithuania to just seven points in the final three minutes.
Lithuania went 21-for-37 on 3-pointers but committed 20 turnovers and 27 fouls.
We wanted gold, but Im taking anything right now. Thats the way it is, Marion said. Everybody wants to play for the gold. To come back and be motivated for (the bronze) was a big challenge for all of us.
We had to dig deep inside of us. We did tonight. At least well go home with something. We wont go home empty-handed.
ï¿½ 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.