I’m a believer in seeing what’s in front of me and not what’s being sold. When I saw that a cast of NBA stars and superstars barely eeked by the Australian national team which featured an array of NBA scrubs, I stopped in my mental tracks.
In what universe could Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, and the rest of the Australian nationals even pretend to compete with the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, etc.?
Well apparently a non-NBA controlled universe because the Australians were extremely competitive with the Americans, losing 98-88 after the US pulled away.
And then yesterday, the unheralded Serbia team with two no name NBA players and Nikola Jokic, a nice role player for the Denver Nuggets, only lost by 3 points, missing a chance to go into overtime when a three point attempt clanged at the buzzer.
What is happening here?
From what the NBA would have us believe, there’s no way these other teams should even be able to sniff a 20 point loss against a collection of the NBA’s finest.
Sure Team USA is missing Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis, but shouldn’t just a handful of NBA all stars and superstars be able to throttle whatever NBA role players the other countries put together?
According to the NBA index, there’s no talent out there that can touch Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins and yet, here the US is, emerging from two straight dog fights where they could have easily lost.
And this isn’t a 2016 apparition. The US has already sent a band of stars to global competition and lost. In 2004, the Olympic team featuring Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson, Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and a young Lebron James lost three times.
So what’s happening here?
Are other teams competitive because the play together so much and USA doesn’t? That’s the narrative but I’m not going for it.
I think the real answer skews more towards the NBA refs aren’t there to make sure the stars and superstars get their favorable NBA bias. In other words, the players are out there playing without a controlled environment where their name recognition instantly buys them calls that hold up their reputation.
Stars can foul out. Stars can get four fouls in a few minutes. Stars don’t get the call because they “initiated the contact” or “drew the foul”. Stars don’t get “star calls”. Basically, every player is treated the same.
And so the NBA is getting exposed.