Shame on Team USA basketball, NBC for this all-time debacle

Earlier than we get to the 8,000-pound pink hippopotamus in a single nook of the room, let’s handle the 7,000-pound purple rhinoceros within the different nook.

Actually, NBC? Peacock?

Right here is the topic of seven totally different emails I woke as much as Sunday from basketball-fan buddies, all precisely the identical apart from the number of phrases throughout the parentheses: “WHAT THE [HECK] IS PEACOCK?”

After all, possibly NBC knew one thing none of the remainder of us knew when it determined to farm out the U.S. Basketball Staff’s Olympic debut in opposition to France Sunday morning, assigning it to a channel often reserved for the binge-watching antics of Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott. As a result of it would’ve performed Greg Popovich and his crew a giant favor.

In its personal manner, France 83, USA 76 was the trendy equal to the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas struggle of Feb. 11, 1990, which additionally happened in Tokyo and which additionally happened with nearly no one watching again residence. Perhaps USA Basketball isn’t Invincible Iron Mike anymore nevertheless it’s nonetheless beautiful once they lose, however no extra beautiful than NBC retaining it off free TV. This isn’t crew handball, in any case (all due respect to crew handball).

As for the pink hippopotamus? Look, this isn’t Frederic Weis’ France crew anymore. France beat the U.S. on the 2019 World Cup in China. It options three terrific NBA gamers in Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the Celtics’ Evan Fournier and the Clippers’ Nicolas Batum (and in addition the Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, who was an harm scratch). We knew the U.S. was susceptible, particularly after pre-Olympics pleasant losses to Nigeria and Australia.

Observe all of the 2020 Olympics motion

However this was just a little one thing totally different. The U.S. had beforehand misplaced 5 video games in an Olympics historical past that stretches again to 1972. Each was just a little totally different. The primary Russian loss, in Munich 1972, was a heist, nevertheless it was preceded by a rare last-ditch comeback (capped by two pressure-packed Doug Collins free throws) that put them in place to have their hearts crushed.

The ’88 loss to Russia in Seoul was a routine basketball loss: Russia was merely higher that evening. The three losses in 2004, in Athens, included a surprising blowout (by Puerto Rico), a payback sport 4 years within the making (Lithuania) and a semifinal loss to Argentina by which the winners merely outplayed the losers.

This was one thing else.

Team USA shockingly fell to France on Sunday.
Staff USA shockingly fell to France on Sunday.
Getty Photos

This was a 74-67 U.S. lead with 3 minutes and 41 seconds to go. This was a 16-2 French run to finish the sport.

This was USA Basketball choking, in a manner that’s by no means occurred earlier than, not on the Olympics. It’s nearly beautiful to imagine {that a} crew with Kevin Durant, Dame Lillard and firm couldn’t shut out a seven-point sport, below 4 to go. Nevertheless it occurred.

(Or at the very least it allegedly occurred; we’re nonetheless attempting to contact one the 16 American households that has Peacock.)

“I feel that’s just a little little bit of hubris should you suppose the Individuals are supposed to only roll out the balls and win,” Popovich mentioned. “We’ve set to work for it identical to all people else. And for these 40 minutes, they performed higher than we did.”

Very quickly, Popovich goes to have to come back to phrases with the truth that he isn’t teaching Hickory Excessive. Once you settle for the job teaching USA Basketball, you inherit the historical past: three straight gold medals, 15 total (out of the 18 the U.S. has competed in), 25 straight wins (till Sunday), 138-5 all-time report.

Now 138-6.

“France is an effective crew and so they play very effectively collectively,” mentioned Jrue Vacation, the one U.S. participant who actually did cowl himself in glory, scoring 12 key fourth-quarter factors after arriving in Japan contemporary from the Bucks’ championship celebration solely hours earlier than tip-off. “There have been instances we had been up ten or so and now we have to maintain going. I really feel like we’ll get higher each sport.”

He’s most likely proper. That is additionally proper: that’s now not merely a hope. It’s now, formally, a necessity. | Disgrace on Staff USA basketball, NBC for this all-time debacle

Huynh Nguyen

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