Portraits in Patriotism: Exit Interviews

by Bethlehem Shoals

Once again, all of America can taste the gold. Our long national nightmare of basketball inferiority is over, ended by Coach K and those noble boys of his.

Employing timeless hardwood values, honoring their elders, and learning important lessons about themselves and others, Team USA did more than redeem the NBA. It redeemed us all.

Once again, we can glibly speak of “World Champions” with nary a tinge of irony. There is peace in the valley, and every man who donned that off-blue jersey can now speak with relief and frankness.

And as they lay their feelings bare, we will be there to spot the traitors, who didn’t give it their all, and those who, unbeknownst to the commoner, truly gave their lives for God and country.

Carmelo Anthony: “After it was all done, it made it all worth it.” Believe, if we’d come home second or third, this would’ve been a wasted summer. I come here to feel good about myself and get coached by someone who ain’t insane.

The last thing I need is more controversy, especially when I could be taking a nap instead. So yeah, now that we’ve got that medal, no doubt it was worth the commitment.

Carlos Boozer: “We want to come back and defend this gold but right now we’re celebrating. I feel so honored to be a part of this team.”

Yeah, so I didn’t really get much burn, what with LeBron playing center and Chris Bosh finding himself. I’ll go ahead and say right now that I’m thinking about 2012, so when guys start making excuses or bowing out, I’ll have this eager-beaver statement of purpose to trot out.

Colangelo never forgets, they tell me, on account of all his wrinkles.

Seriously, I’d go right now in a rematch of Spain. That’s how serious I am about defending the fort. Me. The Booze. Defending this country while everyone else gets fat and lazy.

Chris Bosh: “It’s the consummate of everything. I’ve been dreaming about a gold medal ever since I saw the ’92 Dream Team play.”

What you don’t know is that “consummate of everything” is part of this self-help program I’m working on, yet another of my side hustles that will only reveal itself when I get around to designing the proper web page. I can’t really get into it now, since I’m kind of winded, but it combines yoga with Denise Richards’s performance in “Starship Troopers,” with a new media sensibility.

Kobe Bryant: “Surreal. Surreal.”

Earth to Kobe: Don’t say sh-t like that when you’ve just won one for America. That’s a French art movement that liked putting chairs on top of bicycles, and gluing eyeballs where nipples should be.

Nothing proper there.

I don’t know what they taught you in those Italian schools, but here we like big, broad, conclusive feelings like “awesome,” “amazing,” “special” and “truly outrageous.” Also this makes it sound like you’re thinking a little.

Don’t think—RULE.

Dwight Howard: “I just thank God for this opportunity to play in the Olympics. Without him, this wouldn’t be possible.” Maybe that’s why you weren’t nearly enough of a factor in this run to the top: You spend all your time daydreaming about how whenever something amazing happens, the Big Guy’s to thank for it.

The Jews say a blessing when they buy a parking meter, comb their hair, or send their kids to school, and it took them 10,000 years to get their own country. Let that be a lesson. God made everything and everyone, and going over that too often will rot your brain.

LeBron James: “Much respect to Spain, but US is back on top again.” Being LeBron James means you get to be the one who says that.

Jason Kidd: “With all the great players and the egos we became one ego, a team ego and that growth was a beautiful thing to see.” Okay, fine, A-Rod recommended a therapist to me.

Chris Paul: “I think this will be contagious. It will rub off on a lot of people and guys will see how much fun we had and be like, man I want to be a part of that.” I mean, it would be nice if I got every other summer off.

Tayshaun Prince: “I enjoyed it but I kept thinking I might have been part of one of the best Olympic basketball games for all time.” That makes me kind of nervous, because I never sign my name the same way twice, have three Social Security numbers, and don’t want to leave any mark on history. Off of this alone, I’ve had to scrap my plans to retire to the Andes next summer.

Too much recognition, especially since I made some plays in this game. See, you all think I’m soft-spoken, but I really don’t want to getting too much tape on me, lest you teach your laptop to impersonate me at dinner parties. One time, Kobe had a custom Team USA “Gribble” jersey made for me, but he doesn’t know what’s about to go down when the Illuminati come.


Dwyane Wade: “It’s the best experience I’ve ever had.” Seriously, Shaq’s a joke now, and I’d prefer to not be remembered as his “sidekick.” That’s why me and Kobe are so tight now. We’ve both suffered at his hands, given sweat and blood while he loafed and took credit, and now sit on the top of the world watching him decay.

Yeah, we had this instant bond, but couldn’t really tell Bron about it, since he doesn’t have a ring yet and everyone likes to play mini-golf with Big Z when they’re in Cleveland. That’s kind of his thing.

Deron Williams:

Question: What does the medal feel like?
Deron: It feels like gold! It’s heavy, it feels great.
Translation: They say you should always dress for the job you want.

Previous Portraits: Part I | Part II | Part III

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