Forum Blue and Olympic Gold

Gatinho —  August 11, 2008

The Original Dream Team: Wilma “La Gazzella Nera” Rudolph and Cassius Clay dominated the headlines when the Olympics returned to Rome. The men’s team that the US sent would be overshadowed by these dynamic characters, but included 10 players that would eventually spend time in the NBA. They would be led by a trio of Hall of Famer’s Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson, and Mr. Clutch himself, Jerry West. They would average over 101 points per game, and their minimum margin of victory was 24 points with 5 players averaging double digits in points.

1976: After ducking a scare from a feisty Puerto Rican team, Mitch Kupchak would be solid in this Gold Medal performance in Montreal. He would average 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. The US team would include Quinn Buckner and Adrian Dantley.

1984: Laker fan favorite “Sleepy” Sam Perkins would garner a Gold as a member of this Bobby Knight led team which of course included Steve Alford. This team also had a Ewing and a Jordan allowing them to shoot 64% from the floor as a team and beat Spain by 30 in the final contest.

1992: After realizing that rest of the world was using their professionals and circumventing the Olympic ideal of amateurs only (that and losing in 1988), the USA finally got into the act and put together a team for the ages. This team of legends was led by The Legend, Earvin Johnson. I’ll share a little personal experience. I was able to see these guys play in Portland against Cuba in The Tournament of the Americas. They beat them by 79 points. It was like watching the Globetrotters.

1996: Still playing with the winning formula, this team mixed grizzled veterans like Gary Payton (Was he really a Laker? I forget.) and Charles Barkley with young upstarts like Penny Hardaway, and Grant Hill, and not yet a Laker Shaquille O’Neal. This would be the last time the USA would enter an international tournament with its head and shoulders above the competition.

Sun Yue Primer: So most of us probably spent Sunday watching the (ahem) Chinese Magic Johnson. Outside of some grainy stuff on youtube, there really isn’t a lot of stuff out there about this guy. Most of us will use the Chinese games to scout the newest Laker signee. He seems to have good handles and is a legitimate 6′ 9″ with a 34″ vertical. And yes that was him on the underside of Lebron James shadow on that ridiculous alley-oop dunk. Kurt pondered his minutes, but he got 26. He scored 8 points and had 2 assists.

When is the next game?: Angola vs. USA is Tuesday at 8:00 PM Beijing time. NBC’s website tells us this. Beijing, China is +12 hours from EDT. You do the math.

Think before you react: A quote from Yahoo’s reporting of the Sun Yue signing…The Lakers are considering moving Bryant to small forward and making frontcourt player Lamar Odom a guard.

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to Forum Blue and Olympic Gold

  1. i call dibs!


  2. I’d love to see the Lakers go big and have Odom run the team; we know he has the ball-handling ability, but for it to work in the triangle he’s going to have to establish consistency from deep.

    Have any of you seen that picture of the Spanish basketball team mocking the chinese? I believe it is on I don’t think it’s a huge deal, and I’m asian; but at the same time I’m a little disappointed in Pau.


  3. I think the Yue signing was brilliant.

    We’ve all been talking a lot about the salary cap, luxury tax and operating income and how it relates to what the lakers can do with personel. There isn’t a whol;e lot the team can do about these things. However, right now, with Chinese national pride in their basketball team, and their fervor for the nba propelling basketball to the ranks of the most piopular sports, AND with their apparent adulation for Kobe, the timing of this move is a great move. It gives the Chinese fans even more reason to follow the Lakers (even if Yue plays Coby Karl minutes) and maybe buy some more jerseys.

    I don’t know how big an impact this kind of thing can actually have on the bottom line, but this is probably the most efficacious move available to them with their 14th roster spot.

    Will it be an impact signing? Maybe not. But I still think its brilliantly thought out.


  4. Wow..I think i’d pay the lakers to take that job


  5. The Dude Abides August 11, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Sun had a sweet block of a Dwight Howard drive on a fast break. He also hit a couple of threes while Kobe? was assigned to guard him. He looks like a versatile player who can be plugged into the PG, SG, and SF positions. I can see him take Newble’s place on this year’s roster. I think Coby Karl will beat out Crawford, and I have a feeling Mitch will re-sign Mbenga.

    As for the Olympics, Rudy Fernandez looks impressive. I think Spain has to be our biggest obstacle to regaining the gold. They are extremely talented, and have played together a lot over the years. Marc Gasol appears to be a load to handle down low. I wonder if Spain’s coach will ever play the Gasol brothers together. It appears for now that they are taking turns at the five. IMO, none of the other teams in the tourney are capable of beating us if we play average b-ball–only Spain.


  6. The Dude Abides August 11, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    That last sentence should read

    “IMO, none of the other teams in the tourney are capable of beating us if we play average b-ball. Only Spain.


  7. *nomuskles, you beat me to it…ha.

    *We’ve talked some about Odom potentially moving to Guard….I think all it means is where he’ll line up on offense. Basically, moving LO from the strong side wing to the opposite guard on the weak side, where he’ll be paired more with Pau. Pau and LO had a great chemistry, so in that way, it makes sense that we’d want him to line up on the weak side. Plus, because Odom is left handed, he can attack to his strong hand more and do it moving away from the middle where the most help from the defense is.


  8. Darius,

    There are a lot of good reasons for Lamar to play a guard spot, and your lefty/Gasol magic on offense would be part of it. I think that it is bigger than that–more of a resurrection of Phil’s old Scottie Pippen role for Lamar on offense and defense.

    Although I have some questions about Lamar’s judgement as a passer, he is very unlikely to shut his teammates out and start to play one on five basketball. Taking playmaking responsibility from Kobe and allowing him to focus more on defense is a true win-win for the Lakers. On defense, I can see Lamar defending Peja at the top of the key where shorter defenders couldn’t on a switch. I can see Lamar catching up when he gets beat at the perimeter and completing a rotation ahead of a dish.

    In fact, I can see Lamar almost anywhere except defending the 3.


  9. PS. think sun yue also stuffed a d.howard shot… almost fell of my chair..


  10. Just turned my television on and I can’t believe what I’m seeing now… China is actually dominating Spain late in the 3rd Quarter, 53-39 in their favor.


  11. “Sun, Sun, Sun,
    Here we come,”

    We’ve been prophesized by the Beatles:

    “Here comes the Sun,
    Here comes the Sun,
    It’s all right”

    I thought we had a chance to steal Yi Jian Lian from the Bucks last year, but the Lakers obviously were way ahead of me on this one. They not only “got” the marketing angle way ahead of the olympics: they got the right player at the right price.

    Yi is not a bad basketball player, but he didn’t fulfill the hype in Milwaukee as an early first rounder. He’s already been traded to New Jersey, where his international presence may be of more value. Meanwhile, in the Olympics, he barely made his presence known.

    Can’t say that about “the Sun” against team USA.

    Sun defended and offended in limited playing time–exhibiting versatility, talent, and heart enough to deserve to be nicknamed “the Chinese Magic Johnson.” Now he’s going to get his chance for some real time with the real guy.

    Let’s make sure we get Sun Yue to some great dim sum places not far from Staples and make him feel right at home when he gets to LA after the Olympics.

    It’s all right.


  12. Yao Ming’s fouling out had sever repercussions. Lebron has fouled out and Howard is prone to fouls. Not only does it hamper play, but it slows momentum.


  13. Kobe was just horrible in this game. Not only was his shot off, but he was so up on his man defensively that he repeatedly got beat. Then there was the fact that he had a ‘Kobe’ moment where he tried to take over the game in the 3rd qtr. Kobe really was not a leader in this instance.


  14. Kobe is really struggling with the FIBA three point line. The guys playing the best on the team at the ones that have been playing FIBA ball the longest (Lebron and Wade). I can’t explain what happened to Carmelo.


  15. I agree with the positive opinions about Yue. I was very impressed with his quickness and toughness in making a couple of very good defensive plays. He has a nice handle and looked very comfortable taking the threes. And playing Lamar at G and Kobe at the SF, well the mismatch opportunities just boggle the mind. Players will be tripping over each other trying to figure out who they should guard. Once again, re: Yue, Mitch seems to have been way ahead of the bar.


  16. Anyone think that most teams put their best defenders one Kobe and thats why Lebron and Wade look so good? Just a thought. To me it looks like Kobe can’t get a feel for the game (probably because he is unsure where his shot is going to come from. I know I played alot better when I knew my role on offense. He is probably trying to hard). As for Lamar at guard, there is no way he can stop someone like Chris Paul. The Lakers would have to cross match which is dangerous when you have a skilled point guard.


  17. 14. I can’t remember any concrete examples, but didn’t some teams have decent luck defending PG’s like Nash and Paul with longer defenders (i.e. Tayshaun Prince)? I don’t think LO is the defender Prince is, obviously, but I also don’t think that matchup would necessarily be as terrible as it seems on first blush.


  18. Oops, last comment was in response to 16…the numbers changed on me.


  19. Justin, that’s feasible, but considering Angola’s center was 6’5..I don’t think Angola’s defensive stopper was a Shane Battier clone. Personally, it seems like he’s just making the game harder on himself…shooting long 3’s, not driving and creating contact, etc.


  20. I have been a ardent Laker fan since 1968. I can say without hesitation that Jerry Lucas (he of the shot-put jumper) never played for the Lakers – let alone won a title with L.A. in 1980. He was long retired by then.


  21. danfeld,

    My bad. It was Spencer Haywood who played for the Lakers in 1980 and played on the 1968 team. I somehow got that mixed in with my notes on the 1960 team. Thanks for the catch.

    I need to fire my content editor (again)…


  22. The Olympics returned to Greece in 2004. The Olympics you refer to at the top (1960) were in Rome.


  23. Yeah I agree that Kobe and some of the other players are shooting from too far out. I think they are trying to space the floor and therefor and shooting from a greater distance. This is more a problem of the difference between the NBA and FIBA game. Thats why FIBA players shoot so well, there game is all outside shots because the lane is over crowded and thats where the open looks are. In the NBA there is more space because of the 3 foot difference at the 3, plus the fact that you can no longer uses your hands to defend. Kobe’s role isn’t supposed to be a driver but a shooter like Redd since they have Lebron, Wade and Paul who can get into the lane. He does need to adjust and drive more just so he can get to the free throw line and find his shot.

    As for Lamar, I don’t mean to say it isn’t possible just really hard. The Lakers transition D is already pretty suspect and thats where it would be the biggest issue. I remember Magic and how he would rarely guard the other teams point (thats why B Scott was so important on that team, they crossed matched it and B Scott is 6’4 but fast enough to guard points). It worked for that Lakers team because they wanted you to run with them. This team likes to run when there is an opening and thats it. I guess it would work if Trevor guarded the points and Lamar guarded the small forwards. It seems like it has a chance to work and is an experiment worth trying but I wouldn’t count on it. Other than Trevor, no one else can guard points (except Fish, Farmar and Kobe), so unless you are playing Trevor 35+ minutes a game I can’t see it being much of a factor.


  24. re: the Lakers signing Sun Yue & a possible shift in position for Lamar Odom with the return to health of Andrew Bynum, and the addition of Trevor Ariza, plus Pau Gasol

    There are good reasons, right before the Lakers vs Celtics NBA Finals this past season, I predicted:

    i) The Celtics were going to win the NBA title this year; and,
    ii) The Lakers are going to win 70+ games NEXT SEASON, in addition to becoming the NBA Champions.

    2007-2008 was the Celtics time.

    2008-2009 SHOULD belong to the LA Lakers.

    A personal acquaintance of mine who is employed with the Lakers informed me 1 year ago … when Yue was drafted by LA … just how high the organization’s expectations are for this 2nd Round Draft Pick.

    Will he be a ‘small bit’ player on their 2008-2009 NBA championship team … maybe replacing Ronny Turiaf?

    In all likelihood.


  25. Hey guys I was wondering if someone could address if the reason Kobe is having shooting problems during the olympics because of his finger injury. Nobody is addressing it because Kobe hasnt said anything about it but maybe it is worse than people think, especially since he didnt perform on par to his level during the finals either. Maybe the accumulated play has affected his hand more than we thought?


  26. khandor,

    Nice to see I’m not the only 70+ win predictor here. Everyone thinks i’m crazy for thinking. Nice.


  27. Whoever clicked on the link I provided above ^^^ and somehow then navigated their way to this next one, below:

    Has my SINCERE appreciation.

    Thanks, in advance. 🙂


  28. 25) Well you know Kobe will not use it as an excuse for his shooting woes. You are correct in that no one is at least offering his injury as a plausible reason for his shooting slump-typical in the life of Kobe Bryant!

    Kobe had to play in this Olympics as it will be his last chance to play for his country. Bravo for the USA! Not so good for the Los Angeles Lakers. Hope he can have surgery and heal in time for the 2008-2009 season.


  29. I think Kobe’s shooting struggles are due to two reasons: 1) He’s tired. It’s been a looooong season for him. 2) The closer 3-point line affects you mentally. It’s a big difference between the NBA 3’s he takes and FIBA 3’s, and the now he’s taking set shots from a distance he normally takes pull up jumpers from, sometimes with a defender all over him.


  30. Sun Yue will bring in the Chinese fans, and Pau Gasol will drive them away.

    Now Pau might have apologized and said he never wanted to do the ad, but it was still stupid on his part to actually do it.

    Here’s the story for those that don’t know what I’m talking about or haven’t heard it yet:


  31. The Dude Abides August 13, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Magic frequently guarded the other team’s PG, with Byron usually chasing the SG through the screens. Sometimes, Magic guarded the SF, Byron the PG, and Worthy the SG. It all depended on the matchup. I remember in Magic’s final years, Magic guarded Tim Hardaway and just gave him plenty of space, daring him to shoot 20-ft jumpers all game and throwing his teammates out of rhythm. It worked.

    25 – I think you’re onto something there.

    We better beat Greece tonight. This is all on Coach K. If he’s stubborn and doesn’t make any adjustments to the Greek pick and roll (if it’s successful), then we deserve to lose, just like 2006. Hopefully he’s learned the names of the Greek players by now.


  32. Greece just got their backsides handed to them on a silver platter. Bring on Spain.


  33. Now about the only thing I can complain about is the free-throw shooting. Oh well!


  34. Re the USA Team’s shooting woes.
    Just maybe it’s the ball. Aren’t they playing w/a slightly smaller international ball? The size may be just enough to throw off their shooting,but as they play more they should get more used to it and percentages should improve.


  35. As long as Coach K doesn’t get in the way … KOBE & LEBRON, supported by D-Wade, and D-Williams … with a mobile big like Chris Bosh are not going to lose in this year’s Olympic tournament.

    If Kobe had been playing in 2002 and 2004 … or, if Larry Brown had simply given more playing time to Lebron & D-Wade, young pups at the time … rather than using great established NBA players, like Iverson & Duncan, who are only Above-AVERAGE in the FIBA/international game, which requires a slightly different skill set … the USA would still be undefeated in the Olympics, since they started using NBA players with the original ‘Dream Team’.


  36. Sorry.

    Meant to say …

    “in 2002, 2004 and 2006 …”



  37. Bosh didn’t play like a nancy boy last night did he?


  38. Wade – six steals with 17 points, three rebounds and five assists in just 20 minutes.

    James 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocks

    Bosh finished 7-for-8 for 18 points with five rebounds

    Bryant tied for a game-high 18 points.


  39. New post up. Some fast break thoughts on the Olympics and a little more.