USA! USA! USA!
While fans of the stars and stripes often show out in numbers when American sports teams compete against other nations, the United States men’s basketball team did not receive a warm welcome this summer. Support for the national team even paled in comparison to that of nations known far less for their basketball skills.
This summer, high-profile athletes withdrew from the U.S. national team. NBA players including Anthony Davis, James Harden and Damian Lillard decommitted from the FIBA games, believing it would be an easy win regardless of the roster.
On Sept.14, the U.S. team beat Poland (87-74) and placed seventh in the FIBA World Cup tournament.
This summer’s games, organized by the FIBA, took place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in China. A record number 32 countries competed in a total of 92 games during the Olympic qualifying tournament.
The top seven teams automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo while the rest of the field will have a chance to compete in four FIBA Olympic qualifying tournaments coming up.
The U.S. men’s team has won the past 58 international games but that streak came to an end this summer, when they suffered two losses against France and Serbia.
This marks the 11th loss by the U.S. since 1992.
In the 1988 South Korean Olympics, the U.S. lost to the Soviet Union and finished in third place. This prompted the Olympic committee to change the eligibility rules to allow professional athletes’ participation in the games.
While the 1992 Dream Team and subsequent U.S. Olympic squads have largely dominated the competition since then, the U.S. received bronze in 2004 at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Many Americans remember this embarrassing aberration from dominance at the international level of competition.
When they aren’t winning, the U.S. men’s basketball team does not receive close to the same amount of support because fairweather fans are unaccustomed to losing.
The tournament took place in China and the games were not broadcast on national television, thus limiting American familiarity with the disappointing finish.
However, fans of other teams competing showed out and strongly supported their countries, despite knowing that they would not make it far in the tournament. At every game, fans cheered their countries on until the end.
While it is asking much for Americans to wake up in the early hours of the day to watch the livestream of a basketball tournament on the opposite side of the country, it would have been nice to at least offer support and words of encouragement to the team online.
If NBA fans from Europe and China are willing to tune in to prime time basketball games playing at Pacific Standard Time in the U.S., Americans can tune in to a 5 a.m. game to support their team.
After finishing in seventh place, NBA superstars including Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard officially committed to participating in the 2020 Summer Olympics. The U.S. team underestimated their opponents this time and paid the consequences in defeat.
Not a single player from the U.S. made the all tournament team as Evan Fournier (France), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia), Nicola Jokic (Serbia), Ricky Rubio (Spain), Marc Gasol (Spain) and Luis Scola (Argentina) rounded out the leaders.
All of these names are familiar because all but Scola are current NBA players.
In the NBA there are over 100 international players from over 40 countries.
The Most Valuable Player from the 2018-19 NBA season, Giannis Antetekounmpo, represented Greece in the tournament.
The world has caught up with the U.S., and it is only a matter of time before we are not the pinnacle of basketball excellence.
Other countries deserve more respect and it’s time to recognize that America is not as great as they think they are.