It's the opening day of the 2008 Summer Olympics and I have some confessing to do.
I love the Olympics. And I mean LOVE them. I love obscure (to our point of view) countries hearing their national anthems. I love the guy or gal who finishes 16th but, by gum, they got there. I love watching sports that never make it on TV unless your dial goes into the 1000's. I love the ceremonies. I love the athletes getting together purely for the purposes of competition and...hey. See that Aussie swimmer over there? Yeah that one, the blonde. Man she's hot. The swimming events are over now, aren't they? I think I'll just mosey over and show her my medal. Ahem. I love the athletes getting together mostly for the purposes of competition and promoting their sport. I'll admit it, I'm a total Olympics junkie.
However I must admit to you, my fellow Americans, that I am also a traitor. Or I guess some would label me so. You see, for a guy who writes a daily (and quite prolific) blog about basketball, I fear I have a couple of faults when it comes to that sport and the Olympiad.
1. I just don't care to watch it that much. Yes, I'll be watching every moment Rudy Fernandez plays. Just in case you Blazer fans are wondering when that will be, the Blazers themselves sent us this list:
Saturday, Aug. 9 - Spain vs. Greece at 11:30 p.m. (USA Network)Tuesday, Aug. 12 - Spain vs. China at 1:45 a.m. (MSNBC)Wednesday, Aug. 13 - Spain vs. Germany at 6 p.m. (looks like online only)Saturday, Aug. 16 - Spain vs. USA at 7:15 a.m. live (TAPE DELAYED TO 10 AM ON NBC)Monday, Aug. 18 - Spain vs. Angola at 1:45 a.m. (looks like online only)*All times are Portland. For Beijing time, add 15 hours.The top four teams from Group A and top four from Group B will play the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Semifinals are Friday, Aug. 22 and Finals are Sunday, Aug. 24.
2. I don't really give a rip if the U.S. wins. In fact I might even want them to lose. Sorry. I know. Just shoot me now. But dangit, it's true. I probably won't actively root against them. In fact during given stretches of a game I might even root for them. But in the overall picture I don't really care if we bring home the gold. As a matter of fact, I can see good reasons to hope we don't.
First, those other countries seem to get so darn excited when they win it. I'm sure our players would be happy, but it's not the same thing exactly. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the teams with the payrolls of less than $200 million per year. More to the point, I have a soft spot for their fans and how it would feel to take it all.
Second, coming in second or worse yet again might finally put the nail in the coffin of this All-Star, two-month preparation system we have in place. I loved the original Dream Team. I haven't really been captured by one of our international teams since. Embarrassed occasionally, bored frequently, but hardly inspired. If we do win the gold it's going to look like this system works. And then next time Kobe doesn't come and LeBron doesn't come and instead of assembling a great team they'll go to the overpaid generic substitutes again and the cycle starts all over. Call me crazy, but I still want to see a team with Kobe OR LeBron OR Chris Paul OR Dwight Howard...maybe pick any combination of two or three that you think would work and then surround them with role players and team players and shooters and floor-burn guys. Or at least give me more guys like Deron Williams or Brandon Roy who are pretty constantly hailed as unselfish team players. I almost envy the other countries because they have actual TEAMS instead of a fantasy league. Well, at least right now most of them do. Heaven forbid other countries, enthralled with the cachet of their own pro players, should start emulating our system. Personally I wouldn't care if we started sending our best college players again...though of course you couldn't do that because not enough of them survive past their sophomore year without turning pro. (sigh) What's an old-fashioned guy to do?
So that's it. I'm out of the closet now. And with that you'll have to pardon me...I think the Modern Pentathlon coverage is about to start on channel 872.