U.S. Olympic basketball team needs reorganization

The nightmare saga known as the 2004 United States men’s Olympic basketball team came to an end with a bronze medal on Aug. 28.

The “Dream Team” gave a disappointing performance, and the players were criticized for being underachievers.

The selection of the U.S. team is the only thing that needs to be changed.

The four leading scorers in the Olympics were NBA players, but they represented teams other than the U.S. Despite setting the United States record for points in a single game, Stephon Marbury was not the best point guard in the Olympics. Puerto Rico’s Carlos Arroyo was.

Despite playing as a team leader and using his put-your-body-on-the-line brand of basketball, Allen Iverson could not hit an outside shot. Argentina’s Manu Ginobili could.

Tim Duncan, considered by many to be the most fundamental basketball player in the world, was forced to play at center and found himself in foul trouble during many games. China’s Yao Ming was the dominating inside force during these games.

Lamar Odom may be considered one of the league’s most improved players, but his contemporary from Spain, Pau Gasol, reigned as the leading scorer in the Olympics.

Unknown players from other countries became superstars by playing monumental roles in Olympic competition: Argentina’s Luis Scola, Lithuania’s Arvydas Macijauskas, and Italy’s Gianluca Basile. In the NBA, they could be role players.

So-called “superstars” from the U.S. looked lost and confused. Richard Jefferson showed how great Jason Kidd can make any player look. If there’s one thing the Olympics proved, it is that a Kidd-less Richard Jefferson is a worthless Richard Jefferson.

Without a doubt, LeBron James, Carmello Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Amare Stoudemire are the future of U.S. basketball. How ironic then that Anthony found himself in Coach Larry Brown’s doghouse, Stoudemire and James barely got off the bench, and Wade was used as a defensive stopper who never put up much offense.

Now that it’s over, questions are being raised about how to change U.S. Olympic basketball. Should we use NBA Champions, NCAA Champions? Perhaps a college all-star team?

There are advantages and disadvantages to those arguments, but U.S. basketball is missing the one key point – this is not an all-star team. The NBA All-Star Game is in February.

This is the Olympic Team, the key word being “team.” It doesn’t have to be made up entirely of All-Stars, rather a cohesive unit of players.

There really isn’t much of a point in comparing the Olympics to the NBA. The truth of the matter is that the people who select the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team for 2008 had better wake up before another nightmare begins.