Loser? Yes. But the best team won
Over the past two weeks or so, I’ve received more than a few less-than-positive messages from readers chiding me for my prediction of Olympic gold for Team USA’s mens basketball team in Athens, Greece.
It hurts to admit this, but I agree.
But it’s not for the reason those smirking, know-it-alls laid out so well email after email.
I’ll don’t regret my support of Timmy, A.I. and the fellas – you’ve got to admit it wasn’t a bad showing for a team without a true center, any quality perimeter shooters or a shutdown defender.
My foul up was the complete lack of acknowledgment of the womens’ team and its hunt for Olympic glory.
Thanks in part to the solid play of WNBA stars Lisa Leslie, Yolanda Griffith and Tamika Catchings to name just a few, the USA women rolled undefeated through the bracket to win its third-straight gold.
“I can’t tell you enough how great this feels. It is my second one, wish it was my third but I’ll take two, “Sacramento Monarch guard/forward Yolanda Griffith said on the national team’s Web Site. “We knew we were the best team – we got a little challenge today but we prevailed. I am going to show this thing off to everyone.”
Starting with the guarantee of the gold medal for the men by the Denver Nuggets’ rookie phenom Carmelo Anthony in the weeks before the games began, to the lopsided loss to Italy in the prelims, the men hijacked the coverage almost from the opening whistle.
• Could Larry Brown make the adequate adjustments before the games began?
• Would Tim Duncan be able to carry the team’s much-needed low-post attack?
• Would Team USA’s suspect perimeter defense be able to corral the shoot-first, ask-questions-later style international teams are famous for?
Sadly, the news of the women’s’ eight-game march to the gold was relegated to the ‘in other news’ file.
Still, some of the women didn’t seem to hold a grudge.
“The guys came in with a really big mountain to climb. A lot of them weren’t supposed to be here,” Seattle Storm star Sue Bird said. “It says something about them Ð they didn’t pull out. Some of them were the second or third choice but they came in and gave the effort. My hat definitely goes (off) to those guys because they competed at a high level with all they had.”
There’s little doubt a Shaquille O’Neal/Tracy McGready/Kobe Bryant led team would have run rough shod over any team put in front of it, but that wasn’t an option for a multitude of excuses.
America’s top women, on the other hand, made the gold medal a priority, and it showed.
Keith Jiron is a sports writer for The Union. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4244.
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