The NBA’s Starting 11
If Team USA was built around American NBA athletes.
by Colin Powers
Gradualism has its place, but not here. Reverberations of Asamoah Gyan’s donkey-punch are felt across sea and land. America will never settle for moral victories, and swift change has been proposed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, quietly steaming over her husband’s public failure.
Under her gentle coercion, the past few days have seen a stunning reversal in the internecine feud that has divided American athletics for the past 15 years. Patriotism and jingoism have at long last won the day. David Stern, at odds with US Soccer from an undisclosed personal and political slight dating back to the 1994 World Cup (speculation has a young Alexei Lalas making a passing joke about Stern cheating the draft lottery to make sure the Knicks were awarded Patrick Ewing in 1985, a comment the Commish has not been keen to forgive), has at long last dropped his steadfast blockade preventing two-sport stars from competing for country in both basketball and soccer. It has been reported that under Clinton’s guidance, Sunil Gulati, President of the United States Soccer Federation, flew in ace American General Petraeus for mediation with Stern. The accord stroke between these three power-brokers may forever shift the balance in international football as we have come to know it.
There have been no public statements made yet, but a projected starting line-up for the 2010-2012 period has been leaked by a high ranking US Soccer official.
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook has long been targeted by football giants Manchester United, Real Madrid, and AC Milan, with an offer of a $35 million from Sir Alex arriving at Ben Howland’s office in 2005. Contracts were signed and moneys transferred out of the soon to be indebted United treasury. But, when August’s training camp began, there was no sign of Russ. Thus began a bizarre cross-Atlantic saga. The UCLA administration claimed never to have received the money while lawyers from Manchester furiously prepared for the courtroom, convinced they were being had by some slick Hollywood types. Guns were nearly drawn until John Wooden came in to cool things down and put everyone in their place. Nevertheless, there has been no direct contact between the Scot and Pauley Pavilion since, and Giggsy and co. have been left to wander to what might have been. Murky, he-said-she-said territory to say the least.
Interestingly, an investigative peace published in The Guardian last month has perhaps found the missing link, reporting that a money-laundering syndicate fronted by Tim Floyd intercepted the cash en route, using it to pay Lil Romeo’s extensive living expenses and invest in Reggie Bush Real Estate LLC.
Nonetheless, as for Westbrook, blessed with great size, big cat explosiveness, and destructive insanity in the air, this incident has done little to damper his buzz. Perhaps the defining moment of his young career came in the 2005 under-18 World Cup. A miss-hit service from the then 14-year-old precocious young talent John Wall appeared destined to land safely in the welcoming mitts of French Keeper Hugo Lloris. Westbrook, however, in a moment of youthful audacity continued his blind pursuit, shedding his defender and taking off from just outside the 18. The keeper somewhat lazily came out to meet the ball, unable to anticipate any challenge for the seemingly benign cross. Pissing on the surreal, Russell got there first. Accelerating and elevating as he leapt in a direct challenge to Isaac Newton and all he professed as truth, he ecstatically buried the header in the bottom left corner. Onlookers gasped in wonder and dejected horror, and things continued to slip precariously downhill for Lloris. Indeed, the lasting image of the sequence came after the finish. As gravity eventually pulled Westbrook slowly back to earth, with an almost fatalistic things-happening-in-slow-motion feel to it, Russell’s path of descent provided for an in-air collision of sorts. Westbrook still soaring, the Frenchman bound to the ground, America’s number nine smashed in to the keeper, junk directly to the face in a moment of eerie dejavu. The crowd immediately erupted in to a chorus of ‘Frederick Weiss! Frederick Weiss!’ as a brief smile swept across Russell’s face.
Essential quote: ‘Do not try to bend the spoon.’
Kevin Durant: Durant is a prototype and one so foreignly original that he may just challenge all our notions of reason and truth before it is all over. 6-10 and all limbs, it has been reported that KD once covered the distance between the half-line and goal mouth in seven strides and 5.3 seconds. The anti-derivative, he mixes in-air dominance with a propensity and child-like enjoyment for scoring from every distance and angle up to sixty yards. Now a youtube sensation, Durant’s scissor-kick half-volley chip of Gianluigi Buffon from the area next to the coach’s box in 2007 is generally considered the ‘finest exercise in body control and athletic coordination ever’ (L’Equipe, April 14, ’07). He refuses all attempts at confining positional identities, and is an unyielding supporter of wearing a long-sleeve jersey no matter what the weather. Valencia’s finest, Durant has turned down transfers to the more traditional global powers and seems poised to lead his beloved club to the most senior tables in international football. Trainers are on record saying KD practices free-kicks from the hours of 4:30-8:00 AM every day.
Essential Quote: ‘Oooh Weee
It’s velvet Hoop
Wrist band full of loot
Right next to ma shoe
What’s the Temperature Sam 80 Degrees
Or mega De-freeze
Bring the Pumps too the knees
Don’t talk about boring Dunks
I’m as young as a child
Now get the hell out ma Garage
Extra Fits in my car
Scoop up, Ice Chief
Like a info rar
To the hoop ya’ll
Come on, Come on
To the Hoop ya’ll
Allen Iverson (sub): Somewhat maligned after a difficult loan spell with Turkish power Fenerbache, the all-time leading goal scorer in American men’s history retains his spot in the 23 as long as he wants it. In an effort to save his legs, Iverson is usually brought on as a second half sub. His prerogative is game-changing magic. Like what Spain hoped for from Raul and Italy from Del Piero in their later years, but actually having some standing in reality.
Age has sapped just a whisker of pace from the 34-year-old, but this dynamo charged with resurrecting Atletico Madrid in the last decade still possesses an uncanny coldness in front of goal which many aficionados claim has not been witnessed since booze and heroic feats of womanizing pilfered George Best’s on-field wizardry. Tireless, inimitably quick, and prolific, Iverson poured in a record 58 goals for Leeds United in the ‘98-99 Premiership season. The resulting Iverson-mania infected all of the UK to the point that the Gallagher brothers spent two entire years in studio writing a concept album to commemorate No. 3 before scrapping it when Liam took a dump in Noel’s pillow case. Rumors also circulated that Queen Elizabeth had ambitions of remarrying, this time to the young footballing genius, in hopes of keeping the throne away from her hapless son, Charles. Throughout, Iverson has declined to comment or spoken only cryptically on the subject, typically doing so with a playful grin and glint in his eye, belying a sense that he knows something we don’t but will never share it.
Essential quote: A few leading British pundits have accused Iverson of schadenfreude for his emotionless torturing of goalkeepers across the globe, to which he responded, ‘sensitive thugs, they all need hugs.’