Fourth & Long

David Friedman

In a weekend full of sports news, the most shocking headline I saw has been largely ignored by the national media thus far.

USA Men’s Basketball failed to qualify for the upcoming Olympics.

Allow me to clarify: The USA Basketball team that has been expected to win gold since the formation of the Dream Team is still very much planning to participate in Olympic play. We still aren’t sure who will be on that squad, but they will be the favorite to win it all regardless.

Jerry Colangelo is giving up his role as USA Basketball men’s national team director and handing the reigns to Grant Hill after this year. I don’t expect much, if any, dropoff when that occurs, especially anything this significant.

The team I’m talking about is the men’s 3x3 basketball team. Yes, USA Basketball has a 3x3 squad and they just lost to the Netherlands. How embarrassing is that?

If it were a clog-wearing competition I would expect a place like Holland to be the favorite, but this is basketball. If gold was provided to the manufacturer of the worst tasting beer, then I anticipate the makers of Heineken would be a hands-down favorite, but we made Michael Jordan and LeBron James. We shouldn’t be losing basketball competitions to the Netherlands.

Maybe the problem was that instead of men like Michael Jordan and LeBron James donning Team USA jerseys and representing their country, we sent guys like Joey King and Robbie Hummel. If you just asked yourself who those people are, then welcome to my confusion. I felt the exact same way.

I understand that traditional 5-on-5 full court basketball is the bigger priority and where we put the the majority of our recourses and attention, but I believe we could have done better than the likes of Joey King and Robbie Hummel.

Am I to believe we couldn’t have taken a glance at Ice Cube’s 3x3 league and found better players and/or recognizable names to represent our country and try to earn a spot in Olympic play?

Even if you didn’t want to go after former NBA veterans, I think we could have done better than finding players that went to the University of Minnesota and Purdue. If searching for hockey talent I believe these would be great places to look. Basketball players, however, not so much.

Instead of us reminding the world that we invented the game, 3x3 half court basketball will debut in Tokyo at the Olympics without us.

While the women will be there competing, the men’s story will embarrassingly end this year with a loss to Tulip Nation during qualifying. We have to do better.

David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at fourthandlongcolumn@gmail.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.