The Sports Guys take on USA Basketball.


Is it a classic if no one is watching?

Guess you’ll have to take my word for it.

by Bill Simmons

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

I can’t let the Gold-Medal Game go. USA 118, Spain 107. One of the 10 most dramatic basketball games of my lifetime. And nobody gave a crap or even knew. The game started at 2:30 in the morning ET and vanished into thin air. Only West Coasters and super-diehards stayed up to see it. Everyone else woke up Sunday, heard the score, caught the highlights and never thought about it again.

When was the last time a truly great sporting event completely slipped through the cracks? That never happens anymore. Ever! I feel about 3% cooler just for being one of the few who watched it live.

Consider the following:

• You do realize that all those points were scored in 40 minutes, right? This was like a Nuggets-Spurs game in 1978, only this time there was a gold medal at stake, so everyone was playing out of their minds. The two teams combined to make 41 of 65 field goals, 13 of 22 threes and 35 of 41 free throws—in the first half.

• The Spaniards hung with America’s finest even though a) star point José Calderón was injured; b) star scorer Rudy Fernández battled foul trouble all game; and c) they made the goofy decision to play with first names on the backs of their jerseys (shades of Cadwallader University in Fast Break). So how did they hang around? They got a few sneaky baskets on back doors and high screens. Fernández (22 points in 18 minutes) hit a few bombs. The U.S. needed a fire extinguisher to put out Juan Carlos Navarro, who made an absurd collection of floaters, runners and you-gotta-be-kidding-mes. And in the upset of the century, the Gasol Bros. (32 points) totally overwhelmed Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh inside.

(You heard me, the Gasol Bros.! On the Black Sheep Brother Scale, Marc moved out of a three-way deadlock with Don Swayze and Jeremy Giambi after this game. He still has a little way to go to catch Frank Stallone, though.)

• Ricky Rubio started for Calderón and was solid, if not great. But the feat itself? Do I need to remind you he’s the same age as Jamie Lynn Spears? Imagine Team USA picking Chris Paul and a high school kid as its point guards, then Paul missing the gold-medal game and the teenager holding his own? How many commercials would he be filming right now? Twenty? The nonstop Pistol Pete comparisons are beneath Rubio; his defensive instincts, playmaking and athleticism bring him closer to a hybrid of Scottie Pippen and a young Magic—if they happened to look like one of the Jonas Brothers. I love Ricky to the point that I might move to whatever NBA city gets him. You think I’m kidding.

• Dwyane Wade’s 27 points off the bench. I forgot how much I missed him. When a Spaniard tripped Wade at the end of the first half it sent me (and whichever other Americans were still up) into full-fledged “Oh, you want a piece of us, Spain?!” mode. It was just the extra motivation I needed. Why? Rooting for Kobe and Coach K is like rooting for the house in blackjack. It never stops feeling wrong, and you never stop secretly wanting to turn on them. When Nike brilliantly used Marvin Gaye’s rendition of the national anthem in its commercial, I was pretty much swayed; you could have talked me into caring about a team featuring Kevin Federline, Jimmy Fallon and Spencer Pratt after that. But some scrub from Spain nearly blowing out Wade’s knee? It was on.

• You can’t beat three incompetent FIBA refs speaking different languages for providing an I-hope-this-doesn’t-turn-out-like-the-last-three-seconds-of-the-’72-Olympic-gold-medal-game edge. Just when Spain was fading, Fernández caught the on-fires from Navarro and YouTubed Howard with a hellacious dunk. But he fouled out on an egregious touch foul (Kobe’s game-altering four-point play), and Spain cried conspiracy after. Problem is, those bozos called a whopping 55 fouls and looked more wobbly than a 93-year-old backing out of a driveway. Fun wrinkle, especially if you wanted to have a two-hour heart attack.

• Not one, not two but three festering Team USA weaknesses bubbled up. First, they lacked a KG-like defender who could patrol the paint and fix every lapse on D, as well as a Bruce Bowen-like perimeter stopper to squash high screens. And guess what: The Swayzes worked over the Howard/Bosh combo, and Navarro killed the U.S. on the same high screen at least 45 times. The suits spent more than two years picking this team and failed to find the only two defenders they needed? Really?

Second, Coach K kept starting a washed-up Jason Kidd (can’t shoot, can’t play slash-and-kick) over Chris Paul and Deron Williams (only the two best American point guards right now). This was the elephant in the room for two weeks. Kidd would tread water, and Paul and Williams would wreak havoc. Meanwhile, Coach K pretended it wasn’t happening, and NBC’s Mike Breen and Doug Collins totally ducked the issue. Only when Spain threatened in the second half did Paul and Williams alternate playing the final 16 minutes because, you know, K realized he actually needed to win the game. The good news: He gets to deduct the charity minutes he gave Kidd at tax time.

Third, for most of the Games, Team USA had an alpha dog issue. Was this Kobe’s team or LeBron’s? Fast-forward to 8:13 left: Fernández’s three cuts the lead to two; the crowd is going bonkers. Spain’s bench reacts like a euphoric 15-seed during a March Madness upset, and the U.S. calls timeout. All along, my biggest fear had been a tight game and multiple USA guys saying, “I got it!” Instead, everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically. Incredible. Kobe, you have the Lord of the Flies conch. Use it wisely.

• Had the Americans blown this one, the Choke Job Hall of Fame would have a new wing. Kobe, Bron, Wade and Coach K would have been stained forever (not to mention Howard, whose stock slipped at a Bear Stearns speed in the medal round). Imagine the pressure on Team USA during that timeout. After all the rhetoric and BS, after all the hype about choosing the right team, everything was slipping away. Could there be more pressure than that? I say no.

Yeah, they just barely prevailed over an opponent they should have beaten handily. This was still the most dramatic non-Phelps moment of the Olympics. I know one person who attended the game (my friend Hirschy, an NBA nut) who spent 20 minutes recapping it a week later, repeatedly telling me, “You had to be there—this was tense!” No kidding.

I could tell that at the final buzzer, when 12 filthy rich grown-ups began to celebrate like Little Leaguers. No posturing, fake crying or rehearsed dance routines, just hugging and more hugging. We wanted a selfless team that cared. We wanted a team to come through when it mattered. We wanted one unforgettable game. We got all of it—well, those of us paying attention, anyway.

And that’s why I hope neither NBA TV nor ESPN Classic ever replays this game. It belongs to me and the lucky few who watched it live and sweated it out. God bless America. Hell, I might even start rooting for Coach K and Kobe after this.

(On second thought … nah.)

Want more Bill Simmons? Check out The Sports Guy’s World.

If it’s true that no one watched this game in the States, it’s a tragedy.  This was one hell of a game.  Seperate your dislike of the NBA from this Olympic Team.  Watch the game.  Cheer on the USA.  Be amazed.  Be impressed.  Get Nostalgic.  Push back a tear.  Celebrate a helluva Victory…

Then go back to your NBA Hate.

This game was special.  For the Olympics.  For Spain.  For both teams.  For America.


USA Basketball takes Gold!

Team USA celebrates the Gold

Team USA celebrates the Gold

Team USA takes Basketball Gold in a 118 – 107 win over Spain.

I sat and watched the game live in Herat, Afghanistan.  I was in the Dining Facility with about 100 other American personnel.  There were also 5 to 10 Spaniards in the room with us.  I didn’t realize this  until Pau Gasol made a play.  I and the other Americans screamed “ARRRRRGH!!!”  And a few other expletives that I won’t type here.  The Spaniards applauded.  Every American in the room turned towards the applause with malice in our eyes.  lol  Being intent on the game, we had not noticed the Spaniards enter the room.   After the initial shock, a couple of us laughed and returned our attention to the game.

It’s always a special experience watching momentous games such as this in remote corners of the earth with fellow Americans.  Back in the States.  Everyone is American.  It’s all taken for granted.  This victory was made all the more special for me having watched it in Afghanistan.  I can’t explain it.  I just feel it more.

America reclaims it’s rightful place in Olympic Basketball.  International Basketball. It was a game decided in the last minutes. Team USA was never down.  But the Spaniards pulled to within 2 with a little less than 3 minutes remaining.  Team USA started to act a little frazzled.  Anger surfaced.  They recovered quickly and retook the lead.

Navarro, the Gasol brothers and Ricky Rubio, the 17 year old future pro, were pulling out all stops.  Fernandez seemed unstoppable at times.  Dunking on Dwight Howard and showing no signs of quit or surrender.  He eventually fouled out defending Kobe Bryant after sizzling Team USA for 22 points.  That shot of him dunking on Howard will be shown as an Olympic highlight for the nest 100 years.  It was that good.

It was a great game.  The Spanish Team acquitted itself nicely.  Played hard and played well.  They played to win.  But fell short.  Team USA held on.  Took the lead back to Ten and kept it there.  Dwayne Wade was the high scoring genius with 27 points.  Kobe Bryant and Lebron James were equally stars of the game for the USA.  Tayshaun Prince even got some valuable playing time in there over the more heralded Carlos Boozer.

AND IT WAS A GREAT GAME! Well Played and hard fought.

Team USA 2008 will be remembered as the team that brought the Gold back to America.  In Basketball, the Gold belongs in America.  It’s our game.  James Naismith invented it.  Our people perfected it.  It’s THE American game.  More so even than Baseball.  Jerry Colangelo deserves a good deal of credit for the redemption of USA Basketball.  He was the architect of this Team USA.  Coach K and the Boys deserve equal credit.  After all, it is a team sport.  They earned this Gold Medal over the course of last four years of work.  The USA finally played as a team in the Olympics.  And it paid off in Olympic GOLD!

Congratulations Team USA.  Well played.  The Basketball Gold is once more where it belongs.  In America.

They lived up to the legacy of these guys.

The First Dream Team.

New York Times

Free Tibet Now!!!

Tibetans and their supporters are on the move throughout the free world. It’s the perfect time to move against the communist human rights violating monolith that is China.

China . The Host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. It’s sacrilege. The Olympics are supposed to be symbolic of peace,cooperation and harmony among nations. Amongst peoples. China, the megalithic Communist Monster. China the world devourer. China of Tienanmen Square fame–Tanks to squash a student protest. China who allowed millions to perish so that a few well fed maniacal murderers could retain power. China. Led for nearly 3 decades by Mao Zedong. The greatest mass murderer to walk the earth. The man who oversaw the murder of 70 Million Chinese so that he could frighten the rest into obeisance. Mao Zedong.

In 1950, China invaded Tibet. Extending the Maoist carnage and murder spree into the worlds most peaceful province. China rolled into Tibet and commenced to torturing and murdering Monks and ordinary citizens in the thousands and hundreds of thousands.

Why did Mao want Tibet? What was his claim?

It was simply a matter of Chinese prestige. Mao thought that all of the peoples of the area should have the opportunity to be murdered in his evil grasp and under his failed leadership.

In 1246, a Mongolian annexed Tibet into the greater Mongolian Empire. That Mongol Ruler was Khubalai Khan. Great Grandson of Genghis Khan. Khubalai Khan eventually conquered and united what we know today as China. This is the first instance in history of a united China. Khubalai founded the Yuan Dynasty. This is considered the first Dynasty of modern China. The China that we know today.

The China we know today was created by a Mongolian. Don’t tell the Chinese this. For some reason, it angers them. They see the Mongols as a primitive people. But it took a Mongol Emperor to bring China together. it was a Mongol Emperor who first brought Tibet into the Chinese sphere of influence.

China’s claim to Tibet is as ridiculous as a Mongolian claim to China.

China has brought herself these troubles. The Chinese want to join the Global scene as a full and respected partner. Yet, they still want to carry on as belligerent neighbors. Taiwan is another example of Chinese over-reaching and trouble making. Taiwan is a separate nation. Yet, China continues to want to claim it as part of mainland China. China wants a peaceful partnership with the free world. BUT they don’t want to be held to the standard of peaceful nations. China wants to make money off the West even as they terrify and cow their own citizens. Even as they deny many of their citizens basic human rights.

The Taiwanese have built a country based on capitalism and free markets. It’s people were thriving even as Mao was murdering millions in his failed Cultural experiments (revolutions). Yet, China demands the right to rule over the island nation as if China were the author of Taiwan’s successes.

Now that the Olympics have given the enemies of China a world wide forum, expect the Tibetans and other groups to surface. As the Olympics draw closer, it will be more and more difficult for China and the governments of the participating nations to ignore their demands.

Tibet has international support. I’m interested to see where the pressure on China leads. Will China react as they have in the past with violence and severe punishments? Will they cave to international pressure? Will China be forced to stop murdering innocent folks for the crime of desiring freedom and liberty? Will the world stand up and be counted? Or will the same eyes which refused to see the genocide in Darfur be willfully blind still?

Will Tibet finally gain their independence or at least autonomy? Or will Chinese hypocrisy and murder be rewarded yet again by it’s eager accomplices in the West?

Of course, we all want our cheap electronics, tennis shoes and t-shirts from Walmart via cheap Chinese labor. Therefore, the chances of China being held to any real standard of human rights is slim to non-existant. It’s the same with oil. We want our cheap products. And Hell! We’re free. We have our liberty. Why should anyone care about those damn Chinese or Tibetans? Or anyone else for that matter.

I’ve met a few Tibetans along the path of my life. They have always been nice, peaceful people. Exactly what you would expect. As if each Tibetan were an emissary of the Dalai Lama himself. Poised. Perfectly composed. Even when the subject of the mighty Dragon arose.


Questions or Comments are always welcome.