Disclaimer #1: I had a wonderful vacation, and although I missed the Angola and Greece games, I still feel the spirit and ferocity of the Screaming Eagles pulsating through my body.
Disclaimer #2: America. Apple Pie. Fifty States. Eagles. Money. Amber waves of grain. Abe Lincoln. Declaration of Independence. Guns. Mickey Mouse. Baseball.
As much as I love the United States of America and their National basketball team, I have room in my heart for another darling.
I love the Spanish National basketball team.
Not in the same way I love the ol’ Screaming Eagles, but the kind of way you love this year’s Tampa Bay Rays.
They are gritty, dirty, and oh so European. The Spanish also have our beloved Laker Pau Gasol starting at Center. More so, the Spanish play basketball the way it was intended to be played. Not with superstar power, but with perfect and well oiled execution. They are more exciting than the ’06 Golden State Warriors, they are uglier than the Argentinean and Greek teams combined, and they are without a doubt the most formidable opponent that the Screaming Eagles will face in this XXIX Olympiad.
Individually, the Spanish squad is jam packed with some of the most talented players playing on the European continent. Ricky Rubio has been dubbed the “Spanish Pete Maravich”, and judging by his innate ballhandling prowess, the 17 year-old, nicknamed “Chachi”, should be dribbling around in arenas across the nation like Steve Nash on crack (and with caterpillar eyebrows) in the 2009-10 season.
Rudy Fernandez and Marc Gasol will make their NBA debuts in fall for the Portland Trailblazers and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively. And if their play in Beijing is any indication, these two dudes should make some noise in the Association. Fernandez looks like he could be the third Rookie of the Year candidate for the Blazers (alongside Greg Oden and Jerryd Bayless) and Marc Gasol just looks like Chewbacca (I love it when he lets out that primal Wookie scream. Rumor has it that it can be heard all the way back on Kashyyyk).
I could continue to gush over my darling Spanish Conquistadors. I could go on for hourrrrrrrrrrrs about how cool Calderon and J.C. Navarro are or how much I think Garbajosa looks JUST like Clive Owen (it is damn UNCANNY) or how Berni and Mumbru are just the epitome of kickass, but I have a responsibility as an American to root, root, root for the home team.
In their dismantling of Greece and Angola, Kobe & the Eagles ripped Sofoklis Schorsanitis’ and Olimpio Cipriano’s hearts out of their chests and although the match against Spain will be much more difficult, there is no real way I see the U.S. dropping this one. I see them getting a good scare. I see the Screaming Eagles maybe falling behind by 4 or 5 points in the first half before ultimately winning by 10-15, giving the Spanish just enough hope and filling them with just enough blind rage to win the Gold Medal match on August 24, which could be the greatest Olympic basketball game since Aleksander Belov and the U.S.S.R. (and the referees) stole the Gold from Doug Collins & Co., at the 1972 Munich games.
Varsity’s Olympic Musings –
Even though Morgan Freeman tells me during every commercial break the Mikey Phelps is indeed not a fish, I propose that we here at the Lakers Nation launch a grassroots investigation into whether or not the man is hiding gills or scales somewhere on that goofy ass swimmer body. THE MAN CANNOT LOSE! I say the Lakers should install a single lane lap pool courtside at Staples Center, and have Phelps just breeze out laps in it. Just for good luck. 82-0 with Phelps, mark my words.
Also, I have moved on from the Croatians that I profiled in my last article. I have been swept away by the grace and beauty of Australia women’s basketball. Erin Phillips and Lauren Jackson in them wacky green and yellow leotard uniforms… Oh.My.God. They are also great ballplayers. Dream women, I swear.
Authors Note: There seems to be much confusion as to the start time of this game. It is at 10 AM EVERYWHERE. Breaking it down even further, 10 AM in Los Angeles. 10 AM in New York. 10 AM in Seattle. 10 AM in Piscataway, New Jersey. 10 AM!!!!!!