Washington Post Blog: So, almost two years after Gilbert Arenas blasted USA Basketball for not giving him a fair chance, he's starting to look prescient. Granted, he would not have made Team USA given the wealth of talent at the point guard position and his knee injury, but when the team was finally announced today, my first thought was, "Gilbert was right."
All the talk about having a national program of 33 players and forcing them to make a three-year commitment to the program, participate in summer workouts, then tryout for the team in an intense training camp process seems laughable now.
Two weeks ago, USA Managing Director Jerry Colangelo scrapped plans to invite about 15 or 16 players to Las Vegas to cut the team down to 12. It was sort of sneaked in during the NBA Finals, so nobody made a big deal about it.
I think this team wins the gold, but I can't argue with Gilbert: It looks like Team USA knew what it wanted all along. And that didn't include a high-scoring point guard who plays (played?) on Fun Street.
How else do you explain Carlos Boozer's addition to the team, when he didn't play on the world championship team in Japan in 2006 or the representative at the FIBA Americas Tournament in 2007.
In his news conference on Monday, Colangelo used the word "equity" to say explain why Finals MVP Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics wasn't added to the team, saying that you have to invest something into the program to have a chance at making it.
I'm not hating on Boozer; I think he should be on the team. But I think it's a bit hypocritical to say that somebody has to make a full three-year commitment to make the squad when Boozer was unable to play the past two years (I'll admit he had a legitimate excuse last year with his son's illness). It just seems like Boozer was in the hip pocket all along.
I never got the chance to ask about the selection during the 30-minute Q&A session, but it really doesn't matter. Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski have the best team they can possibly send.
The only choice that I question some is Tayshaun Prince over Tyson Chandler. I love Prince, but the team is really deficient in the height department. Dwight Howard is the only center - and the team only has two players taller than 6-feet-10 with the 7-foot Howard and the 6-11 Chris Bosh. It might not seem like such a big deal now, but it might if Howard somehow picks up foul trouble.
Nobody thought it was a big deal when Tim Duncan was the only center on the 2004 team in Athens - then Duncan got in foul trouble in almost every game. The trapezoid lane makes post play pretty difficult, but you need shotblocking and rebounding - two things Chandler can most certainly provide. And when Greece upset the squad in Japan, they abused them inside with "Baby Shaq" and controlled the boards. Small ball could hurt them in the long run.
Arenas also suggested that shoe allegiance played a role in the selection process. Arenas wears Adidas and Nike is a sponsor of USA Basketball. I don't know how much truth is in that - especially since Colangelo said he tried like crazy to get Adidas spokesperson Kevin "Anything Is Posssssiiibbbaaaaaaalllll!" Garnett on the roster and since Nike has stocked its roster of endorsers with the league's best players. But it is a bit odd that Chauncey Billups, who wears Adidas like Howard and Arenas, backed out last week. And, Howard is the only player on the U.S. roster who wears a shoe that isn't owned or operated by Nike.
Coincidence? I think so.
What do you guys think about the team?
Gil's new nickname: The Prophet.