Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sports Report

The American Basketball team lost again at the World Championships. This time they were soundly beaten by Greece, a team with no current NBA players.

Continuously using pick-and-roll plays to beat the Americans’ defense, the Greeks shot 63 percent (35 of 56) from the field and made 31 of 44 shots over the final three periods.

The United States has not played for a world championship since winning the last of its three titles in Toronto in 1994.

Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post explains it like this:
Our arrogance has no boundaries when it comes to international basketball, though it ought to by now, after yet another loss in a major competition. Even Americans who pay fairly close attention to world basketball, people who should know better, took one look at the Greek roster and dismissively figured, "No NBA players on the roster? Then no chance for Greece."

And it's a racial condition as well. We -- and by "we" I mean Americans of all colors -- have conditioned ourselves to look at European teams specifically and dismiss them out of hand because they're white. Or we think they're white. And of course, Americans have led the world in telling folks that white men can't jump, though amazingly some of those Greek kids apparently didn't accept our premise.

Well, yes, but the racial aspect isn’t just that white guys can’t jump, it’s that black guys are selfish losers who can’t play team basketball.

That, of course, is the worst kind of racism. Any cursory glance at the history of basketball definitively proves that skin color or African ancestry does not preclude one from playing smart basketball at the highest levels of the sport.

We can, however, assign a lot of the blame to “ghetto culture.” It’s all about individual status. There are those who dominate and those who submit. It’s not just a racial thing. The same could be said for the Masters of the Universe Wall Street bullshit, but unlike stock speculation, basketball is a team game and a good team always has a chance to beat a collection of better individuals.

But the NBA, NCAA and the television networks share the biggest part of the blame. They are the ones who allow the “me first” and “humiliate the opponent” attitudes that come straight outta the ghetto to dominate the game.

These powers that be in big time sports and television are irresponsible and they may be fools, but they are not idiots. They no doubt have polls and ratings to show that more people will watch ghetto basketball than the more traditional team oriented sport.

This is unfortunate because ghetto basketball reinforces the very worst elements of ghetto society. Being poorly educated, pathologically selfish and abusive works for basketball stars, but doesn’t usually get a person very far in the real world. So very, very few kids will escape their lives of poverty by becoming professional basketball players, yet so much of our culture encourages them to act in the worst possible way for advancing their interests.

On the other hand, the colleges and the NBA could have a positive influence by punishing the ghetto style of play. This is not as radical as it sounds. The rules have been changed over the years to encourage it. They can be changed again to discourage it. That’s a big reason why the U.S. can no longer dominate the international game. Because the international rules favor team basketball. If those who played ghetto ball couldn’t make the team in college, much less the NBA, better values would be pushed back down to the ghetto and people would change.
Krzyzewski and a few players congratulated the Greeks, but most of the U.S. team quickly headed to the locker room.