Please No More ’92 v. ’08 Basketball Comparisons

August 25, 2008

USA

Some time in the past few weeks, you’ve all thought to yourself, is this ’08 basketball team really good enough to earn the gold medal? You’ve all thought about the Greece game in ’06, the Argentina game in ’04, and the fiasco at the ’02 World Championships.

Now that USA basketball has returned gold stateside, please don’t try to compare them to the ’92 Dream Team (and while we’re at it, enough with the ‘Redeem Team’ too). When the US won gold in Sydney with the likes of Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter, did anyone make comparisons? Were there even comparisons of the ’96 team with Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley and Grant Hill?

There is absolutely no contest as to which was the better team. I’m not going to even indulge you with an argument because I don’t think there is one to make for the ’08 team at all (but if you really want to know, look here for more or less what I think).

These kind of arguments are the worst part about the 24/7 news cycle. There is never enough to talk about (even though ESPN tries so hard) with the results of games so there have to be made up questions of who’s better to fill the space. This is certainly not the first example and won’t be the last. But the whole thing just makes me depressed about sports coverage. What happened to the days when people saw games and wrote interesting, thoughtful stories about them? Isn’t the gold medal enough for this team? If they were truly all about redemption, why do they need to be compared to the ’92 team (which interestingly enough was also all about redemption after the bronze in ’88)? See, just talking about it drags me into it…Enough already.

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That’s All Folks

August 24, 2008

Closing Ceremonies

With the US basketball team defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game, the 2008 summer Olympics are done. The closing ceremonies have already happened, though they will be on tv at 7 EST.

Overall this has to rank as a very good Olympics. I know there are people who don’t want to hear anything about the games and just want to bitch about human rights, Communism and the environment, and that’s fine. Now that the games are over, go right ahead. But the quality of competition in Beijing was great. The swimming events captured this nation probably unlike any other games. There are certainly questions about the legitimacy of some of the swimming records but then again everyone had the same suits and swam in the same pool. There was (and maybe still is) controversy in gymnastics, an unbelievable showing by the Jamaican track team, most notably triple world record breaker Usain Bolt, there was the tragedy-triumph story with the US men’s volleyball team after the coach’s father-in-law was murdered, and dozens of other stories that for once weren’t focused mostly on sob stories of rough backgrounds or overcoming the odds.

The greatest swimming performance of all-time and quite possibly the greatest sprinting performance of all-time wrapped into a week’s time is pretty tough to beat, even if we had to watch a lot of them twelve hours later than they happened.

Now that the games are over this country will fall back into it’s obsession with football, with college starting this coming week. Baseball will pennant races are heating up and amazingly, basketball is only two months away. I’ll be glad to spend time watching (and writing about) these sports on a more frequent basis, but it really was great to have the Olympics come through again. Let’s hope the games in 2012 can measure up.


This is Amazing

August 23, 2008

CubanA Cuban taekwondo athlete was banned for life from his sport and had his name permanently and immediately erased from record books after giving the referee a roundhouse to the face after disagreeing with a ruling. John McEnroe is one thing, this is wholly another.


This Was Coming Eventually

August 22, 2008

In what has been a pretty quiet Olympics along the doping front, a medalist has been stripped for the first time. Heptathlon silver medalist Lyudmila Blonska tested positive for an anabolic steroid and will likely now be banned for life. She had already served a two-year ban from 2003-2005 for doping.

It’s pretty amazing that there haven’t been more cases of this in Beijing. Usually there are at least a handful of doping allegations and sometimes major major cases. Maybe the athletes are legitimately moving away from doping as a way to improve performance, especially in events such as swimming where the technology of the pools and suits has increased production to never-before believable levels. There are also fewer and fewer Soviet-controlled or -inspired regimes out there that are willing to institute widespread doping regimens for their athletes.


Hope Solo Vindicated

August 21, 2008

SoloAfter idiot coach Greg Ryan benched Hope Solo after a perfect run to the finals against Brazil, the US was destroyed by Brazil in last year’s World Cup, 4-0. She was then thrown off the team for saying afterwards that she would’ve saved the goals that replacement Briana Scurry gave up.

Well apparently that was correct. Posting a clean sheet today, Solo carried the US team to victory in the gold medal match over Brazil, 1-0. Carli Lloyd’s goal in overtime gave the Americans the surprising victory over the heavily-favored Brazilians.

Hopefully (no pun intended) people, and her teammates especially, will shut up about what happened last year and admit that she was and is the better keeper for this team.


Double Drop – US Out in 4×100 Relays

August 21, 2008

Another disaster in these Beijing games for the USA track teams as both the men and women dropped their respective batons in their 4×100 meter relays this morning. In each race, the exchange between the third and anchor legs crashed to the track and prevented the teams from advancing to the finals.


World’s Fastest Man, Heavyweight Champ?

August 21, 2008

An interesting debate this morning on the radio about what title you’d like to have above any other, in the world of sports. The two big ones in comparison were world’s fastest man or boxing heavyweight champ. There were other choices like NBA champion (are you kidding?), Super Bowl MVP (still nowhere close and you have to wear those dopey t-shirts and give the even dumber Disney World phrase) or Heisman Trophy winner (not bad, but not on par with the international sports).

Honestly I’d have to go with world’s fastest man. Heavyweight champ would be cool and everything but you’d have to be a heavyweight to begin with, which I’m not that interested in, and you’d have to have your head beaten for a living. World’s fastest man, while it might not last more than a year, would be a terrific title (though as Deadspin pointed out yesterday, no white man has ever crossed the ten second barrier) because it is legitimately referencing the entire world. When you win the NBA Finals and they say world champion, that’s not exactly true. Same even with boxing, with all the different classifications and even the fact that it’s just the world champion of the heavyweight division. Doesn’t even count featherweights, middleweights, bantamweights or whatever other weight divisions exist.

World’s fastest man is definitive, everyone knows what it means and you probably had to be involved in one of the major events (Olympics, World Championships, Olympic Trials, etc) to be going that fast.