Saturday, September 02, 2006

This must be how Brazil felt after the World Cup

The USA basketball team won the bronze medal in the World Championships this weekend. This shouldn’t be surprising given the U.S. performances at the last Olympics and the 2002 World Championships where the team finished 3rd and 6th disrespectively. However, it is still a disappointment considering that the U.S. has, in my opinion, the most athletic and gifted basketball players in the world. Yet, we haven’t shown that on the international stage lately. At this point I care only if the US wins because anything else with the talent this team has is a failure. I imagine this is how Brazil felt after its national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup this year.

Brazil has dominated international soccer for the past 12 years, having appeared three WC finals and winning two. The team has some of the biggest stars and best players in the world with Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka, Roberto Carlos, and so on. Just like the U.S. with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, etc. Team USA also dominated the international basketball scene until recently. Despite the presence of superstars both of these squads failed to come together as teams that worked well together and dominate the competition as they should. Ultimately, I think it is this, the fact that these athletes cannot learn a system and operate within that system to achieve victory that is the most disappointing. Oh, and the inability to guard a simple pick and roll.

And so, a third place finish, which would please many other countries, does nothing for our country or me. We feel disappointed in the failure of our team but have become accustomed to our national teams performing poorly. The baseball team failed to place in the inaugural World Baseball Championships, the U.S. soccer team sorely disappointed in this year’s World Cup and our basketball team hasn’t won the Olympics or World Championships since 2000. All of this has led us to become completely disinterested if our team doesn’t win it all, which I think is how Brazilians probably felt this year.

11 comments:

Ben said...

Talent only gets you so far. I don't see the US returning to dominance until the American players actually start caring about these international competitions. Foreign basketball players grow up in soccer-loving countries where the World Cup is vastly more important than domestic league championships. As a result teams like Spain, Greece, and Argentina may not have the players we have (yet) but they certainly exhibit the desire that we lack. As long as this holds true I think the US will remain susceptible to being "upset" by less talented teams.

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