Portraits In Patriotism, Part II

by Bethlehem Shoals

EVERYONE: Big, gold stars of eagle-plumed glory to all members of Team USA who declined to talk politics. Everyone who thinks Kobe, Wade, and Melo have been instructed to stay quiet and refused to fight the power, or just chickened out on their own, doesn’t have the slightest idea what’s at stake here.

When you slap on that jersey, you don’t just represent the United States of America — you serve Her, on the field of athletic battle. And anyone knows that the primary objective of any man or woman serving his country is to protect the President. Now, you might not have noticed, since you’re so busy basking in the afterglow of Barack Obama’s dry run at playing Commander in Chief, but the man himself, President George W. Bush, will be in China for the Olympics. Do you want him put at risk, all so some spoiled Nike millionaire can complain about the gracious host country passing out some firearms in Africa? It’s the same reason that Secret Servicemen aren’t allowed to vote, or wear novelty underwear.

Any of you fans of that show 24? Remember what happened when Jack got stuck on a slow torture boat to China? Do you want that happening to the leader of America? It’s not outside the realm of possibility — hell, he’s already going to be deep within the stronghold of Commie evil. Say Dwyane Wade mouths off, Mao’s ghost gets angry…all of a sudden, we’ve got an international emergency on our hands, with the highest-profile hostage since Helen of Troy at the mercy of a government that made activists of the Beastie Boys. No, I don’t mean Dwyane Wade, you morons. He’s but a pawn. A pawn, I say!!!! The last thing we want here is to give China just the excuse they’re looking for. You people just don’t get it, do you?

Dwyane Wade: Even after it became every NBA player’s duty to suit up and participate in USA Basketball, all you heard about was how it meant less rest, could impact the following season and might even lead to injury. Elton Brand and Brad Miller both agree. That was the prevailing wisdom, and why Kevin Garnett’s gotten a free pass for not joining up. Then here comes Wade, hobbled as far back as anyone can remember, with some pronouncing him washed-up, or at least greatly altered as a player. So what does he do? He makes his dramatic return to form in the run up to the Olympics.

Wade will tear up the Games, and we’ll be forced to conclude that not only does summer competition not hurt, it actually makes you stronger. Exercise is always good; cats always want to play pick-up games, or in some weird rec league run by John Lucas’s dad. The Olympics are that and more. They will heal you, just like they did Dwyane Wade. There’s minerals and elixirs in those practices, like going to an ashram and getting Botox in one wild, crazy spell. Help save the world and you will save yourself.

Carmelo Anthony: Amen, Melo, amen. Here’s a recent quote of yours: “When I put the USA jersey on I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my family, I’m representing my city where I come from, I’m representing the city where I play basketball which happens to be Denver and I’m representing my whole country. I think it is really important to go out and represent your country if you are given a chance to go and do that.”

Notice: Not a single mention of that rathole Baltimore, which from here to Burma is known only as that smack-saturated warzone where corruption seeps into every orifice of public life.

You may not know this, but “The Wire” is huge with poppy farmers and drug mules, just like it is with corner boys over here. So all those countries that brought two athletes to the Games, they’ve got their pirated Season 5 sets on hand for inspiration. That pirated material has spread like a virus around the Olympic Village and beyond, and now B-More’s got more name recognition in Beijing than Boston (nice job, Garnett). Denver, on the other hand, produces beer. Say “Denver” on the other side of the globe, and you’ll get a smile and a John Elway story. Smooth, sudsy, and a credit to our country, just like Melo’s game.

Coach K: Only The Denver Post is up on this, but Coach is fighting a very subtle, but super-critical, battle of his own as he helps guide this team. Take it away, Anthony Cotton: “The future of Dr. Naismith’s game, the one we took to the world and was now being stuffed back down our throats, was being placed in the hands of someone who wasn’t an NBA coach. A man who, the first time he walked into the room to meet with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, et al., was probably facing more tattoos than he had seen in his entire 28-year run at Duke.”

So while those players are out there running, jumping, loving life, and proving just how well they can work together, Duke’s Don is fighting to make sure those pesky tattoos keep quiet, stay hidden, and don’t do anything to disrupt focus. Like if Dwight Howard looks over at some of Melo’s ink, he might get distracted thinking about getting some of his own, or wonder if it hurts. And there’s also the chance that everyone could go out and get matching tattoos, which is sort of like the military, but it is also vaguely homoerotic. If that starts happening, it doesn’t matter what we win.