The big game history of Team USA’s players

By Sam Rubenstein

big gameThere’s lots of optimism for Team USA out there, which has been installed as a heavy favorite to win. But not everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion. The Insider has 10 reasons why the U.S. is destined for LeBronze. This is my favorite reason:

9. The smell factor. This is a little disgusting, but it’s true: Some of these teams stink, literally. Players on international teams travel to and from the arenas in their uniforms, and many players forsake showers as a result. I got a really close look at Argentina during the Worlds in Indianapolis, and I do not believe Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola or Andres Nocioni bathed during the entire tournament. BO may be repulsive, but it also keeps defenders a few extra inches away.

Hmmmm… Maybe this is sarcasm? I hope so. Hatin’ ass hater.

Now that the actual tournament is starting, let’s take a quick look at the history of the 12 remaining US players left and their experience in big-time basketball tournaments, meaning the NCAAs and NBA playoffs. I know a lot of these guys come from powerhouse high schools and travelling teams, but the level of competition for them wasn’t really there until the NCAA level (if that.) The NBA playoffs and NCAA tourney are the closest we can get to these guys being forced to play under the most stressfull high stakes conditions. Bruce Bowen and his two NBA championships are gone, so let’s take a look at what’s left. I wrote this not to be judgmental, but strictly to inform. These are facts:

Carmelo Anthony – Won a championship in college as a freshman, picking up M.O.P. honors. Has yet to get past the first round in the NBA playoffs.

Shane Battier – Won the National Championship in college as one of the best players in the country, made it to the Final game and lost to UConn on the Brand-Langdon team before that. Since college, his teams are 0-12 in playoff games.

Chris Bosh – No NBA playoff experience, and Georgia Tech didn’t even make it to the big dance in his one year there.

Elton Brand – Finally made the NBA playoffs last year and took his team to the second round. In college, led maybe Duke’s most talented team to the final game, but was upset by UCONN. Battier was there.

Kirk Hinrich – Two first round exits in the NBA playoffs. Got to the final game in the NCAA tourney, losing to Carmelo’s team, and got to the Final Four the year before that, losing to eventual champion Maryland.

Dwight Howard – This would be his first big-time tourney where he can’t just overpower everyone. Or can he?

LeBron James – Won an NBA playoff series and carried a flawed NBA team to a game 7 vs. defending conference champs. The more people hate on him, the better he plays.

Antawn Jamison – Lost in the Final Four to Utah, whose two best players were Andre Miller and Michael Doleac. Got to the second round in the NBA playoffs once and made the playoffs with Dallas, where he allegedly played for a year though nobody remembers.

Joe Johnson – Played on a Suns team that managed to survive his face getting smashed in half on their way to conference Finals. Also played on the Marbury-led Suns team that lost to the Spurs in a competitive six game series. In college, Arkansas lost its first round game both years – to Miami and Georgetown.

Brad Miller – Has only gotten past first round of NBA playoffs once in five tries, six if you count his early days with Charlotte. In college, he never got past the sweet 16.

Chris Paul – Never got past the Sweet 16 either and was Pittsnoggled in a double OT thriller. No NBA playoffs yet, but he’s young.

Dwyane Wade – The reigning NBA champion. He goes to the second round at the bare minimum every year, and he had a triple double to get to the Final Four.

So there you have it, That’s the big game resume of Team USA. I know I shouldn’t comapre them to the Dream Team, buuuuut… Jordan had NBA and college championships at the time, Pippen had an NBA championship, Magic had both with multiple NBA ones, Bird was a multiple NBA champ and had a run to the final game in college, Drexler had been to the NBA Finals and the NCAA Final twice, Ewing had an NCAA championship and should have had three, and Laettner was an NCAA champion. David Robinson, Barkley, Stockton, Malone, and Mullin hadn’t won much at the time, but they were all in their youthful prime. Chris Mullin led the league in minutes the NBA season before the Olympics!

I don’t know why I felt the need to bring out that comparison. I like comparing things and people. Hope this whole thing has been educational for you. We’ll see what happens when the new guys start playing for real tonight/tomorrow.

The photo above is meant to represent big game huntin’. Nothing is more American than killing a big animal with a high-powered sniper rifle.