This may ruffle a few feathers, many will call me un-American or some other crazy name, but I have grown to dislike this years version of Team USA.
Why you ask?
Hubris is defined as an overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance. Let’s be honest, that pretty much defines 80% of this Team USA roster. Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin (he was a part of the original roster before injury), and Chris Paul are all among the most arrogant individuals in the sport of basketball. In their own mind, they walk on water and it is that attitude that has turned so many basketball fans off from these players.
We saw this hubris come out before a single game was even played when Kobe Bryant decided to proclaim the 2012 Team USA “better” than the 1992 Dream Team. I can’t think of a single reason why this even matters to any of these players, their only goal should be to take home a gold medal; but with all the attention going on the 1992 Dream Team thanks to recent documentaries and book releases, one has to imagine that it was uncomfortable for these ego-maniacs to have the attention on someone else. It is beyond insulting to the members of the 1992 team to be compared to a roster that hasn’t even won a single game yet outside of exhibitions.
Think of every video you have seen from the 2012 team “practicing”. What are they doing? All I’ve seen is Blake Griffin throwing down stupid dunks, half-court shots, and alley-oop practice. Where is the intensity? Where is the drive to make everyone on the team better? Will we ever hear of a legendary inter-squad scrimmage as we did with the 1992 team or will they be too busy perfecting their alley-oop because we all know that is what makes SportsCenter, not defense, rebounding and hard work.
It would be one thing if we saw zero effort practices but perfection when it counts, but the teams most recent exhibition against Brazil proves that these guys are indifferent. A team with three former NBA scoring leaders, multiple MVP’s, dozens of All-NBA first team members, and the NBA’s three best players should not have to win in a squeaker over a team lead by Anderson Varejao….really. My gut tells me that if Team USA goes home without a medal, they will still go on with their lives with little impact on their emotional state. It won’t bother them for weeks on end, they won’t simmer for the next four years for a chance at redemption, and they will likely go out clubbing in London after the loss that eliminates them.
Do the leaders on this team truly understand the importance of winning an Olympic Gold or just BEING at the Olympics? Think of the swimmers, fencers, runners, and gymnasts that have trained all their lives for this one moment, they have dreamed about it and worked harder than everyone around them and it is highly unlikely that they would let the opportunity slip by practicing care-free with only days before the Opening Ceremony. But with a team built around multi-million or billionaires that have had everything handed to them throughout their lives and basketball careers, what do they care? Do they think they have some special pass that the swimmers or gymnasts don’t? They are overconfident in themselves and arrogant; the very definition of hubris and it is that which makes them unlikable, and hard to root for. It was never this way in the days of Russell in ’57. Maybe it is indeed time to go back to college kids, kids who will truly appreciate the opportunity and work hard at representing their country like every other Olympic athlete…. I may not root against a team representing my country but I certainly won’t be rooting for the 2012 Team USA Men’s Basketball squad.