August 26, 2008

Olympic basketball

Commenters ask why I haven't had anything to say about the U.S. gold medal in men's basketball. I haven't had anything new to say because I said it all in my American Conservative article right after the 2004 Athens Olympics:

Perhaps the most important event of the [2004] Olympics will turn out to be the failure of the once untouchable U.S. Olympic basketball team, an all-black squad of physically gifted NBA stars that was beaten by better-shooting and more collaborative teams from Argentina, Lithuania, and even Puerto Rico.

In the 1970s stereotype, white American players were the dogged defenders, while blacks were the flashy scorers. Then, the John Thompson-Patrick Ewing teams at Georgetown U. made defense fashionable among blacks, leading to a great leap forward in the quality of NBA play that culminated with the incomparable 1992 Olympic Dream Team. Unfortunately, the trend went too far and many blacks lost interest in working on their outside shooting, which proved disastrous in Athens.

Darryl Dawkins, the former NBA center who called himself "Chocolate Thunder," has become an insightful minor league coach. "Black basketball is much more individualistic," he told Charlie Rosen of FoxSports. "With so many other opportunities closed to young black kids, … if somebody makes you look bad with a shake-and-bake move, then you've got to come right back at him with something better, something more stylish… It's all about honor, pride, and establishing yourself as a man."

Dawkins, whose showboating Philadelphia 76ers lost to Bill Walton's Portland Trailblazers in an epic 1977 NBA Finals confrontation between the black and white games, now says, "The black game by itself is too chaotic and much too selfish… White culture places more of a premium on winning, and less on self-indulgent preening and chest-beating."

Arguing that the best teams combine both styles, Dawkins pointed out, "In basketball and in civilian life, freedom without structure winds up being chaotic and destructive."

With luck, this Olympic embarrassment will serve as a wake-up call to African-American males that gangsta rap attitudes are needlessly undermining not just black basketball, but also the race as a whole.

The NBA got the message that the Americans had to stop playing like rap stars and start playing again like a basketball team.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

31 comments:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I agree with your general argument, but it should also be noted that the US teams practice together much less than the national teams of other countries. This is a significant limitation, regardless of what style of ball you play.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer, thanks for obsessing about racial differences in the Olympics to the point of ignoring the outrageous and disgusting propaganda campaign waged against the American people in favor of a totalitarian racist and facist China police state.

Since you're so obsessed and distracted, here are a few basic facts that you missed regarding the underlying motivations of those behind the sinister full court press TV/radio/print/website propaganda campaign:

The WASP old elite represented by GE aka General Electric is thrilled to their very soul to have unlimited access to cheap Chinese labor and potentially huge consumer markets in the future. Therefore the Old Guard in America is happily allied with the Chinese dictatorship.

At the same time the JEWISH new elite represented by NBC is thrilled to their very soul to align themselves with the anti-Western, anti-Christian Chinese government. The Chinese collectivist mentality and attack on individualism hits all the right notes with the masters of the American media! Yes, the Chinese know what real political correctness is all about! Therefore the American Young Turks are happily allied with the Chinese dictatorship.

Checkmate. A total psychology of post-nationalism is evidenced in our elites.

rightsaidfred said...

Pretty good take on it, Steve. Something similiar was said by a guy who bills himself as Mr. Basketball.

travis said...

I'm curious to see how USA basketball responds at the 2010 World Championship. Is there going to be the same level of commitment?

Btw, nice showing by Spain in the European Cup and Olympic basketball. They should enjoy this success while they can.

Indra Maghavan said...

Eh, I think you are buying into the hype machine crafted by Colangelo.

There was no real shift in approach in USA basketball. The gameplan in '04 was remarkably similiar to '08 (pressure defense leading to easy fast-break baskets, and team passing for the open shot).

The fact is, USA just had better players in '08, meaning better defenders and better shooters. In the end, they were carried to victory against the better teams by the individual efforts of D. Wade, and to a lesser extent, K. Bryant.

In two years, when those two guys are no longer on the team, USA basketball will be in a world of hurt again. With their young and improving core, Spain will probably win the next W.C. and Olympic gold.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I'm a fan, but it is just a load of crap to say that John Thompson's and Patrick Ewing's Georgetown teams transformed black players' (and the NBA's) attitudes about defense and laid the groundwork for the 1992 Dream Team. The conventional wisdom is that the thuggish Detroit Pistons' championships in 1989 and 1990 killed off the Lakers-"Showtime" ethos of the league, and this is one case where the CW makes a lot more sense than you do.

NBA types like Hubie Brown and Pat Riley and many others say that the more sophisticated and empirical scouting has become, the easier it is to diagram defenses for opponents. The explosion in the availability of this info seems to be something you just ignore.

The final thing that is just too laughable for words is that the 1992 Dream Team was a defensive juggernaut. The team scored so much (117 ppg) that it never had to even try on defense. Pippen and Jordan tried hard on D. No one else did.

Fellow NBC Triplecast subscribers would know this.

Mu'Min M. Bey said...

As a lifelong Philadelphian, who had posters of Chocolate Thunder on my wall (WOW! I'm old enough to remember when Nike's "Air Force One's" first came out!), I have to say that Dawkins is 100% correct. And I don't say that w/any measure of glee, but w/sadness.

I'm solidly working class, as is the case historically and to a large extent even today w/many in Philly. On my job I'm part of a team who is the fastest, most accurate production line in the entire plant. Simply put, we can do any job faster and better than anyone else.

The reason? There are two.

One is because we have extremely talented people at every position on my line; for example, the machine I operate, while more than two decades old, can outproduce more than the other team about 25 yards away from us, who has twice s many men and a state of the art machine that was just delivered onsite less than three months ago. No one can operate the machine as fast AND accurate as I can. And that holds true for the rest of my team members.

And two, we've closely worked together for years as a cohesive unit. Teamwork, matters, no matter how individually talented you may be. In fact, and sports continually proves this all the time, its better to have less talented people working tightly as a team, than a bunch of highly talented, but selfish, narcissitic guys who are more a harm to the goal of winning than anything else.

So again, Dawkins is right on the money. We all could stand to learn something from the original NBA Dream Team. I know I always do.

Salaam
Mu

Anonymous said...

All would be well and good with your article except for the fact that the whole world will now start playing more like NBA "rap stars" and less like a basketball team with the rule change to a smaller zone and a larger arc:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/sports/olympics/26hoops.html?ref=basketball

Anonymous said...

You know your assertion was made explicitly in "white men can't jump."

This USA team, by the way could pass and could shoot. The only reason their shooting looked bad, is that one of their worst outside shooters, Kobe, was taking way too many of their threes. Kobe has some weird psychology. It seems he wanted to show that he could sacrifice his stardom and be a catch-and-shoot role player (a role for which he was not well suited).

Anonymous said...

Steve, I'm a fan, but it is just a load of crap to say that John Thompson's and Patrick Ewing's Georgetown teams transformed black players' (and the NBA's) attitudes about defense and laid the groundwork for the 1992 Dream Team. The conventional wisdom is that the thuggish Detroit Pistons' championships in 1989 and 1990 killed off the Lakers-"Showtime" ethos of the league, and this is one case where the CW makes a lot more sense than you do.

The Hoyas' success pre-dates the great run by the Pistons in the late 80's and early 90's. Steve is right. Georgetown did change the game of basketball much like the success of the Miami Hurricane football team in the 80's changed the game of football by placing increased importance on speed and quickness.

astorian said...

Everything went so well for the U.S. team this year, so well that I hate to be a spoilsport.

I don't think the problem with previous U.S. squads was a "selfish" style of basketball. Rather, I think recent teams have been both badly conceived and undercoached.

In the international game, zone defenses are legal and common. The only ways to beat the zone are:

1) Have a dominant, physical center who can impose his will on defenses

2) Have plenty of guys who can hit the easy 3 point jump shots that the zone allows.

Recent U.S. teams, INCLUDING the victorious "Redeem Team," have had neither of those things. We've been overloaded on small forwards and point guards who can't hit jump shots and can't play much defense.

Yes, we won the medal this time, and usually won by large amounts. But troubling weaknesses were still evident. Our 3-point shooting was often woeful, we were out-rebounded by the likes of Angola, and we allowed WAY too many easy points with our slack defense.

It's gratifying that so many top players were willing to put in the time and effort necessary to build a championship team. Let's face it- the world has caught up, and we'll NEVER again be able to win with an All-Star team tossed together at the last minute.

But unless future teams are better constructed (with a REAL center, some decent outside shooters, and some defensive specialists), we will definitely be embarrassed again, before long.

Josh said...

Just wondering: Rick Telander in the Chi Sun-Times once "imagined' that Michael made his big comeback after a huge round of steroid injections.Now we hear Dwayne Wade's knee was trashed and he"did something I never did before" he said,that is hit the weight room and bomb his knee with weight training. Now he is back and healthy. Does the name Andy Pettitte ring a bell? I truly was rooting fro Spain as I would have liked to have seen these NBA stars beaten when they are going all out and trying their best. I guess I'm a bad guy. Worse,I regret the Mexican-American wrestler who won the gold. His mother raised 6 kids after she and her baby daddy snuck into America. Swell...

Anonymous said...

Steve--
Ewing et al. invented defense???

Good grief Steve, you seriously haven't heard of Bill Russell???
With what, 11 titles in 13 years or so?

Jeez, more laughable comments like that and readers' skepticism will follow over to your otherwise very insightful comments on human biodiversity.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

This is very off-topic, but I'm curious what you think about this ad:

Obama - Ayers ad

It connects Obama to William Ayers. You probably know more about Obama than 99.9% of journalists/bloggers/etc. Do you think that this ad is accurate? Fair?

bad imitation said...

Wow! I didn't know Darryl Dawkins was so articulate. Whoops, can't say that. No, no, that's no what I meant. Um, what I meant is, shouldn't he be running for president?

Danindc said...

Steve's right about Georgetown's defense. It wasn't just Ewing but also Gene Smith, Eric Smith, Ed Spriggs, Craig Duren, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, etc. Thompson preached the importance of full court man-to-man and his very athletic players bought into it. Final Four 1984- they held an awesome Kentucky team with Sam Bowie and Mel Turpin (#2 and #6 picks in draft) to 9% shooting in the second half.

Thompson then went on to blow the 1988 Olymic games and ushered in the Dream Team, which I hated. Was much more fun to win with- or try to win- with college players- a bronze would be worth something- shame.

But once again, Steve right- anonymous poster wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was like Josh and was rooting against the U.S. team. (Ethnicity is a stronger bond than country.) And supposedly that now that there is some kind of brain scan that can tell one's "true" feelings about things (see recent Atlantic article), it would be interesting to see how many white Americans who claimed to be rooting for the African-American U.S. team were actually rooting against them in their heart of hearts. I bet it was a quite high percentage (maybe as high as false self-reporting gets).

Trey

Svigor said...

I haven't had anything new to say

I had pretty much the same reaction. I enjoyed the hell out of the fact that a podunk European team beat the US team, but it isn't exactly news when the reverse happens.

It wouldn't be news if the racial angle was removed, either.

I was amused to read about how seriously the current US team took things, huddling up and praying and stuff. :)

Svigor said...

The WASP old elite

Gird yourself for the swarm of "WASPs" who won't be buzzing here to defend their racial honor.

Now, call out Jews, then you'll see "WASPs" swarming to defend someone's racial honor.

Svigor said...

At the same time the JEWISH new elite

Aw cripes, NOW you've done it!

Danindc said...

btw- it pisses me off that some posters were rooting for Spain, Greece, etc. As much as we complain on this site about the state of the US- we're still Americans. I'm a huge believer in love it or leave it....which could very well mean I will be leaving in a few years, but still

DAJ said...

I truly was rooting fro Spain as I would have liked to have seen these NBA stars beaten when they are going all out and trying their best. I guess I'm a bad guy. Worse,I regret the Mexican-American wrestler who won the gold. His mother raised 6 kids after she and her baby daddy snuck into America. Swell...


Okay. You resent the Mexican-American wrestler because his parents supposedly immigrated to America illegally. What is your reasoning for regretting the success of the U.S. basketball team's players? Did their parents illegally swim the Atlantic Ocean and sneak onto the shores of South Carolina?

DAJ said...

I was like Josh and was rooting against the U.S. team. (Ethnicity is a stronger bond than country.)

If this is true, the U.S. is then doomed as balkanization would be inevitable.

Also, if ethnicity trumps country, why are you reading the blog of Steve Sailer, an unabashed "citizenist?" American Renaissance is right around the corner.

Anonymous said...

Steve is about 30% right.

Racist punk John Thompson (how many white kids were good enough to play for his teams?)learned at the knee of the greatest basketball coach and motivator ever, Arnold "Red" Auerbach. The 50's-60's era Boston Celtics success started with team defense, led by the greatest defensive force in the game's history, Bill Russell. But, unlike Thompson, shooters like Bill Heinsohn, Easy Ed Macauley, Sam Jones, Don Nelson and Bob Cousy made the Celtics go. Does anyone really think it was defense alone that won them 11 championships in 13 years?

Unfortunately, Thompson's overrated Hoyas never had anyone very adept (Reggie Williams, college version, aside) at putting the orange thing through the hoop. Thus, one championship with the steady stream of McDonald's High School All Americans that matriculated there is pretty lame. He brought the same ideas to the Olympics, with Hershey Hawkins as pretty much the only guy on the roster who could shoot, with the dismal if predictable results.

Speaking of the intrnational game and shooting 3's, Google Oscar Schmidt. He was a Brazilian who beat the US by himself in the '87 PanAm games, which showed the rest of the world how it was done.

Brutus

Anonymous said...

"White men can't jump." Steve what's your take on the two Russians getting gold and bronze in the high jump.

Kent Gatewood

Steve Sailer said...

The medal-winning high jumpers tend to be whites with the spindly frames of Nilotics. In fact, that's what British colonial officials first tried to teach Nilotic Kenyans to do in track and field: the high jump. They looked perfect for it, but they couldn't seem to get the hang of it. Only later did they discover how good they were at running.

Anonymous said...

I was amused to read about how seriously the current US team took things, huddling up and praying and stuff. :)

You crossed the line with that comment.

ben tillman said...

His mother raised 6 kids after she and her baby daddy snuck into America. Swell...

She has 6 children, not one. Therefore, you can't use the term "baby daddy" here.

"Baby daddy" is a transcription of the pronunciation of "baby's daddy" that is common in African-American dialects. It doesn't work the way you're trying to use it.

It's as if you've never been around black people.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Unless a US athlete has done something that causes me to root against him, my default position is to root for him. Ethnicity is not stronger for me that country.

In social situations, age is a better predictor of connection than race for most people. When abroad, the cultural similarity of another American, or failing that, someone from another Anglospheric country, trumps shared haplotype. I mean, Swedes look nice, but they're pretty irritating.

I root against the French and the Russians.

astorian said...

One point in defense of the 2004 U.S. men's basketball team: many white fans in the U.S. were quick to blame the failure on Allen Iverson, who embodies everything white Middle America dislikes in the mocern NBA (the dreadloocks, the tattoos, the attitude, et al.)

I'm not a fan of Iverson, but give the man a little credit. First, he actually SHOWED UP for the Olympics, when a lot of other NBA stars couldn't be bothered. He also played hurt, ignoring a broken thumb the whole time.

He's not my idea of a great role model, he's not someone I'd want to hang out with, and he's not a guy I'd want to build my team around. But whatever you think of his fashion sense or his lifestyle, you have to admit he is NOT the reason the U.S. team lost in 2004.

Truth said...

"Racist punk John Thompson (how many white kids were good enough to play for his teams?)"

Actually, I don't know John Thompson so I have no reason to believe he is a racist. I think the proper question would be "how many white players that were good enough to play for his teams wanted to." Forty minutes of pressure defense, intentional flagrant fouls, and 15 passes before throwing the ball to the center probably did not appeal to many star whites in the 1980s. Thompson had white players, and he tried to recruit Rex Chapman, Christian Laetner and Mark Price.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many
_white_players_played_under_John_
Thompson_Sr_at_Georgetown

As far as whether his teams were overrated:

"Inheriting a Georgetown team which had been just 3-23 the year before, Thompson quickly and dramatically improved the team, making the NCAA tournament within three seasons. Over the following 27 years, Thompson's Hoyas went an impressive 596-239 (.714), running off a streak of 24 postseason appearances - 20 in the NCAA tournament, four in the NIT - including a 14-year streak of NCAA appearances from 1979-1992 that saw three Final Four appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985, winning a National Championship in 1984 and narrowly missing a repeat the next year by losing to underdog Villanova.
Thompson still holds conference records for most overall Big East wins (231), most regular-season Big East wins (198) and conference championships (seven regular season, six tournaments). He won seven Coach of the Year awards: Big East (1980, 1987, 1992), United States Basketball Writers Association and The Sporting News (1984), National Association of Basketball Coaches (1985) and United Press International (1987).
-Wikipedia