USA

Originally published in SLAM 102

Right now—by which I mean, “as I write this”—it’s mid-August. The 2006 FIBA World Championships tip off in about 36 hours, and based on the five warmup games they played in the weeks leading up to the tourney, the US National Team looks ready to reclaim its rightful place in the basketball world.

Five games. Five wins, all but one of them by 20 points or more, including a 23-point rout of Lithuania in which Dwight Howard delivered the nastiness you see above. But more important than the results, arguably, is the fact that this team seems to know what it’s doing—unlike, say, its Larry Brown-led 2004 predecessors. A profound team-first mentality and a sense that they’re actually aware of the differences in the international game are all good signs. In a few weeks, we’ll know if they’re good enough.

Except that, right now—meaning “as you’re reading this”—we do know. It’s mid-September, and we already know what went down in Japan. We know that the Americans pressed and ran their lesser opponents into submission, and that they played smart enough and shot well enough and defended hard enough against the better teams to roll through the medal round en route to gold.

Or, we know they didn’t. Just like we know that this Slamadamonth was a really bad idea.

Unless it wasn’t. You know?

Ryan Jones