Low-post defense. Low-ball scoring. Low-lid profiles.
This U.S. mens basketball team is the most non-star-spangled thing going at these Rio Olympics. What, you haven’t heard about their bruised footslog to today’s gold medal game against Serbia?
Exactly. They are neither obnoxious nor grandstanding, overpowering nor underachieving. The 2016 version of Dream Team Inc. does nothing but make their shots, cover their man and win with no regard to aesthetics or point spread.
This team is so un-American, we want to rerun their passports. Isn’t that great?
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Kevin Durant is the mega-name so averse to spotlights that he just became the country’s second-leading Olympic scorer in the history of ever and you didn’t even know it until 17 words ago.
With 10 first-time Olympians, this is a team that lets DeAndre Jordan be a big deal without acting like one. Fresno State alum Paul George is just one of the guys, because of course he is. Klay Thompson scores a game winner and acts like he just closed out a 12-point Warriors win against the Bucks in November.
Who do these unassuming guys think they are, Canada?
The U.S. men’s basketball team faces Serbia for the Olympic gold medal at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
This Dream Team is like no other since America felt the need to flex its imperial muscle at the 1992 Games. You remember that Dream Team. It was a bunch of Hall of Fame-ticketed superheroes kind enough to visit Barcelona and bash in the world’s skull with a 44-point margin of victory as its bludgeon.
That was great, in a Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals way.
This is better, because this American team is making it interesting. Don’t confuse that with the 2004 Olympic team, which found itself in close games because of their disinterested play.
Watching Us vs. Them is like watching the Warriors vs. Spurs. Basketball is watchable again, because they’re executing game plans and playing with technical purpose.
We’re finally beating the world at the world’s game.
This U.S. team has to work for it, and work hard. In terms of basketball, that hasn’t been the American way in ages
The world is better than ever at playing properly coached basketball. Everyone has NBA players on the gym roll, so there is no more rolling unkempt out of bed and picking up your gold medal at the Olympic Village kiosk.
This U.S. team has to work for it, and work hard. In terms of basketball, that hasn’t been the American way in ages – maybe come the Olympic final, but hardly during pool play.
Consider what the Americans had to do to get to a third straight gold medal match.
They beat France by three points. Three, as in three.
They held off Australia by 10. The enshrined ensemble of 1992 beat teams by 10 points per quarter.
They overcame a slow start to pack away Argentina. They shaved off the Spaniards 82-76 in Friday’s semifinal.
Eighty-two points. That’s their lowest body of work since 2004. What, did the fourth quarter get canceled?
Maybe they lose to the former Yugoslavians today. Who cares? We are no more entitled to a victory parade than anyone else.
The point is, our basketball teams are playing basketball again. There is no more orchestrated death by rim slams and running threes.
This team passes the ball more than once per set. They settle into recognizable defensive ploys. They take turns being the Player of the Game. We leave LeBron at home, so it’s not about him.
Our basketball game is so un-American, it’s American again. That alone deserves a medal.
1. Chason Virgil. Just say it. Sound it out. He’s your starting quarterback, Fresno State. He has done nothing horrid enough to deserve otherwise, and no one else has done anything amazing enough to merit otherwise. To not name a quarterback does nothing to confuse Nebraska, and it only serves to confuse your own locker room.
2. Ryan Lochte is the second-most decorated American men’s swimmer in Olympic history. He used to be known as the guy no one knew because of Michael Phelps. You worked hard at it, Lochte, and it took lots of alcohol, but congrats on finding a way out of that shadow.
3. The Giants are back in first place. Unless the Dodgers are by the time you’re reading this. May this National League West flag go into a one-game playoff, with Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner pitching on three days rest.