Monday, August 09, 2004

4 reasons for a 4th gold

Saying the United States men's basketball team won't win Olympic gold this August is akin to a guido saying he uses only one type of hair gel. It's a straight-up lie. Complete fabrication. More ludicrous than chicken and beer.

Sure, the rest of the world has made tremendous leaps in basketball. Just look at the NBA draft. In the 12 years since Dream Team I in Barcelona, 37 first-round picks were from other countries, with 28 of those picks coming in the past five years.

So, don't expect any more 68-point blowouts of Angola (and sadly, no more "I don't know anything about Angola, but I know they're in trouble," gems from Charles Barkley).

But do we really believe this silly notion that the United States will not win a fourth straight gold medal? Or the kooky paradigm that has Team USA standing off to the side of the medal podium?

Here's four obvious reasons (and four not so obvious), why the U.S. of A. again will earn gold and be crowned champions of the world:

1) Allen Iverson
He's the toughest basketball player on the planet. He's 165 pounds of skin, bones and tattoos and no one can stop him from taking it to the hole any and every time he feels like it. And with Screaming A. Smith on his side, who can argue with his skills?

1a) No other country has Allen Iverson on their team.
This is an important note to remember.

2) No Jason Kidd
He might have forced Larry Brown to trade Tim Duncan to his native Virgin Islands. America needs size, not a point guard who runs people out of town better than he runs the fast break.

2a) No Joumana Kidd
She's a beautiful woman and could serve as a courtside distraction for opposing teams. SHAWN KEMP ALERT! SHAWN KEMP ALERT! Fidelity is to the NBA as Cedric Ceballos was to rap music: a bad matchup. She'd be more of a distraction to the U.S. players.

3) Lamar Odom
He shows flashes of becoming the left-handed Kevin Garnett. He also shows flashes of being the left-handed Gerald Wilkins. This tournament will be his baptism into elite status. Lakers fans will also breathe a deep, deep, deep sigh of relief that the ghosts of the Sedale Threatt era of Showtime are just mirages in the hot summer air of Los Angeles.

3a) New York, New York
Odom played high school ball at Christ the King in Queens. City kids are averse to getting punked on an international sporting stage. Plus, Writer friend Dirty Cash needs another reason to proudly sport his No. 7 Clippers jersey.

4) The Long Beach factor
Larry Brown is a Long Island guy, which means he really shouldn't enjoy the level of success he's had in his basketball career. Despite this geographic hindrance, Brown gets results. Heck, he brought an NBA championship to the Eastern Conference for the first time since no one can remember when. Olympic gold is next, followed by a parade on West Beech Street and a memorial golf tournament at Lido Beach Golf Course.

4a) Alfonse D'Amato
Long Beach needs a better favorite son than Big Al, the former senator, so Brown has no choice but to strut his gold medal on the boardwalk Labor Day weekend.

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