Take a deep breath, everyone.
We’re going to win the gold medal.
Yes, I know: Dwyane Wade, the leading scorer from the 2008 team that won gold in Beijing won’t be playing due to looming knee surgery. Ditto for his Heat teammate Chris Bosh, whose face-up game would be a nightmare for opposing bigs to defend. 2011 MVP Derrick Rose won’t be playing either, because, oh, his knee exploded. The best center on the planet, Dwight Howard, won’t make it because he’s rehabbing from back surgery. And #1 draft pick Anthony Davis, aka Young, Brow’d And Gifted? It was just announced that a sprained ankle will sideline him in London.
Look at that list. That’s an All-Star team, and it might make you worry that America could lose at something it has no business losing at. (The whole world will be watching. And we might lose at basketball? Terrifying.)
What’s more, the Spanish team, who the U.S. beat 118-107 in 2008’s gold medal game, boasts a front line of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka (Ibaka is Congolese but was granted Spanish citizenship last July). The loss of Howard’s 6’11” frame is especially tough against the Spaniards, who the U.S. will — more than likely — have to go through if it wants another gold medal.
But just as the list of injured Americans is an impressive (and, thus, discouraging) one, the list of healthy Americans is like looking at the roster of someone who cheated in NBA 2K12’s franchise mode.
Barring any more injuries or unforeseen withdrawals, this is what our roster will look like.
Behold our American might:
Backcourt: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, James Harden.
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler.
That’s not including Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, and Andre Iguodala (and, fine, I’ll include Lamar Odom, too, even though he kind of hurts my argument and will have to do a lot to change the perception that he’s a melancholy SABOTEUR).
Which means Kevin Love will be grabbing rebounds and throwing outlets to Chris Paul. Deron Williams will be hitting a streaking Kevin Durant. LeBron James will bullrush through overmatched FIBA players. Kobe Bryant will probably take it easy for much of the game, then snap into assassin mode to assure victory in the 4th quarter. Carmelo Anthony will run plays strictly for Carmelo Anthony.
Spain won’t beat us. And if Spain won’t beat us, neither will Argentina. Or Greece. Or any any of the other very hairy countries on the list of FIBA’s top-ranked national basketball teams. There is simply too much American talent, and, keep in mind: a lot of these guys have played together before, both in Beijing and in the World Championships two years ago. If anything, this may be our best team in years, simply based on cohesion.
So you don’t need to freak out.
Unless, you know, we get knocked out by Lithuania or something. Then there will be RIOTS IN THE STREETS.