I’m riding on a wave of “Dream Team” nostalgia. In June, the documentary chronicling the 1992 team’s dominance and effect on how basketball was played around the world made anyone connected to the game yearn for a good old fashioned showdown between national teams. After 66 games of fighting against each other, I want to see our American stars pool together — especially if this is one of the last times NBA stars play in international competition, per David Stern‘s several recent hints. Mostly, though, it’s because try as I might to forget it, the 2002 World Championships and 2004 Olympics changed the games to where every tournament has a fear of failure. You remember, right? In 2002, the U.S. was sixth; in 2004 the bronze medal was the team’s ceiling. I’m sure that Mike Krzyzewski has a scouting report ready for each of the 11 other teams who will play in the London Olympics that start late this month, but just in case I ranked each team by its potential to upset the U.S.
The criteria — FIBA rank, intangibles (ex: is Pau Gasol having a good day or a bad day?), player to watch — all coalesces into an unscientific metric I’ll call the Argentina Meter, with 1 being the best chance, and 11 the worst. Argentina was the first to beat a U.S. team comprised of professionals back in 2002 and probably caused USA Hoops boss Jerry Colangelo nightmares for several years after.
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FIBA rank: 75
How it got here: Host country’s privilege.
Argentina Meter: 11
It’s the first time sine 1948 the Brits are fielding a team, which is just as sad as when Greece threw together a baseball team in 2000 out of castoff college players and Kevin Youkilis. This team is statistically worse than Sri Lanka, Macedonia and the Virgin Islands. A Virgin Islands team without Tim Duncan. Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens said “eh, no thanks” to his own nation in its own Olympics, and if you can think of a less patriotic thing to do — especially when there’s not exactly a line of NBA players waiting to play behind you like the U.S. — I’d like to hear it. We apologize in advance for Luol Deng, who’s going to look bad as the Empire’s only NBA player.