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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 tackle 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 pals, all precisely the identical apart from the number of phrases inside 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 normally reserved for the binge-watching antics of Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott. As a result of it would’ve accomplished Greg Popovich and his crew an enormous favor.

In its personal approach, France 83, USA 76 was the fashionable equal to the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas combat of Feb. 11, 1990, which additionally came about in Tokyo and which additionally came about with virtually no person watching again residence. Perhaps USA Basketball isn’t Invincible Iron Mike anymore however it’s nonetheless gorgeous once they lose, however no extra gorgeous than NBC preserving it off free TV. This isn’t workforce handball, in spite of everything (all due respect to workforce handball).

As for the pink hippopotamus? Look, this isn’t Frederic Weis’ France workforce 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.


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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. Every one was just a little totally different. The primary Russian loss, in Munich 1972, was a heist, however it was preceded by a unprecedented 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 night time. 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 wherein 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.
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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 approach that’s by no means occurred earlier than, not on the Olympics. It’s virtually gorgeous to imagine {that a} workforce with Kevin Durant, Dame Lillard and firm couldn’t shut out a seven-point sport, below 4 to go. But it surely occurred.

(Or a minimum of it allegedly occurred; we’re nonetheless attempting to contact one the 16 American households that has Peacock.)

“I believe that’s just a little little bit of hubris in case you assume the Individuals are supposed to only roll out the balls and win,” Popovich stated. “We’ve set to work for it identical to everyone 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. Whenever 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 efficient workforce they usually play very properly collectively,” stated 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 in all probability proper. That is additionally proper: that’s not merely a hope. It’s now, formally, a necessity.

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