« RFK | Main | Signs of the Times »

The end of USA hegemony?

The USA mens basketball professionals lost their first basketball game ever tonight 87-80 at the hands of a remarkably able Argentina side.

This is only the third time the USA has lost a meaningful basketball game. The first was the shamefully officiated gold medal game in the 1972 Olympics and the second was an 1988 Olympic game against the Soviets. Both teams were horribly coached (the former by Hank Iba and the latter by John Thompson) and neither had professional players, just two dozen courageous collegians. When the professionals played, however, it was believed that America could never lose.

More so than baseball, basketball is a genuinely American sport. (Baseball derives from the English children's game Rounders, but basketball was invented and nurished here.)

This game may turn out to be like Canada's historic 7-3 hockey loss to the Soviet Union in the first game of the Summit Series of 1972 or England's 6-3 and 7-1 soccer losses to Hungary in 1953 and 1954. In both of those games, the losing side were the inventors of the game and both times they thought they were so masterful at their inventions that defeat was impossible. The losses sent shockwaves throught the countries.

Neither England nor Canada, however, learned anything from their losses. They didn't adapt their styles of play to the exciting playmaking witnessed on other shores. They kept on with their boring plodding strategies. They've both been world powers in their sports since, but neither country ever regained their previous unquestioned superiority. Both had more than enough talent to do it, but neither had the will to change or learn from others.

USA Basketball must take from this game that others play our game well, too, and we may have something to learn from them. There is a reason they beat us. USA Basketball shouldn't make the same mistakes as Canada and England.

Of course, the current administration may want to take a lesson, too. We don't have to do what other countries want, but we may be able to learn something if we take the time to listen. If we don't at least listen, our old style -- our unquestioned superiority -- may too disappear and one day soon we'll be looking around wondering how it all vanished so quickly.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 5, 2002 12:32 AM.

The previous post in this blog was RFK.

The next post in this blog is Signs of the Times.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.31