Monday, August 18, 2008

International hoops, football, and fashion

The Olympics haven't been of too much interest to me in recent years, but at least the summer games include two biggest international sports as well as track & field and some guy named Michael Phelps. This year, however, I'd say I'm more interested than I've been in any of the past games I've watched for one reason: USA men's basketball. Not only is this team fantastic, but they're likable. Well, for the most part. After some piss poor efforts in the 2004 Games and the 2002 and 2006 World Championship, this team reminds me of the highlight reels I always see of MJ, Magic and Bird (sans a back) from the '92 games. Also, the first five games have really convinced me of a few things: 1 - Lebron James has surpassed Terrell Owens as the most inexplicably perfect physical specimen on the planet. 2 - Is Dwyane Wade great? I really believed between late 2006 and about a month ago that he was hugely overrated. Now I'm feeling stupid. 3 - Kobe can be a team player when his team is seven times better than its opponents.
So the US now gets Australia, who they struggled against in a game just before the Olympics. Still, with how they've been playing, it seems far stretched that the Aussies can make this game interesting. And speaking of Australia, what's with the men's national team wearing relatively normal (though still fairly ugly) jerseys while the women continue to wear the same spandex disasters they've had for the past several Olympics. The only bright side is getting to see Lauren Jackson's butt.
As for football (soccer), it's excruciating to see the United States, who are trying to establish themselves as a respectable national soccer team, blow it as badly as they did at the Olympics. I know that this isn't the real clubs, it's U23 with three player exemptions. Nonetheless, there are plenty of high profile guys in this tournament (Messi and Ronaldinho, arguably two of the top five players alive, included). The United States won their first game, giving them a chance to lock up a spot in the quarterfinals with a win over the Netherlands. Leading the Dutch into stoppage time, the Americans gave up a free kick, and consequently a goal, in the 93rd minute. Then, still with a chance to clinch a spot in their group stage finale against Nigeria, they stumbled again (already playing without Bradley and Adu because of multiple yellows, then getting a red card and playing a man down just three minutes in). It was awful. Oh well, maybe we'll represent ourselves a little better in South Africa in 2010.
Stay tuned for the US News rankings... meanwhile, Forbes did their own little rankings, but those are of no interest to me.

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