It’s a good thing most of the USA men’s basketball players don’t care much for the United States — the nation they’re supposedly playing for at the Olympics. Otherwise, the Americans’ 83-76 drubbing at the hands of France might have really hurt.
After all, the U.S. men hadn’t lost an Olympic game since 2004 and were riding a 25-game win streak. But in the interest of “diversity and inclusion,” the mostly NBA players opened their hearts and virtually stood aside as France ran rings around them in the late stages of the game.
The American team is full of offensive stars like Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, and Draymond Green, but it couldn’t muster a single field goal during the last 3:40 of the game. France was led by Evan Fournier, a French national who plays for the Boston Celtics. Fourier put his finger on the reason the U.S. didn’t win against a vastly inferior team.
France's Evan Fournier after beating USA Basketball in Tokyo Olympic opener: "They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team."
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 25, 2021
The NBA is a league of individual stars, not great teams. When those stars can’t get out of the way of their own egos, Saudi Arabia could probably beat them.
As was the case in their exhibition losses to Nigeria and Australia, when the USA couldn’t generate offense in transition they struggled. The USA half-court offense looks like a group of players still trying to figure out their new roles and when to just shoot. In the NBA, every one of these players is a first or second scoring option with a permanent green light to shoot, but here both LaVine and Lillard passed up wide-open threes or driving lanes to the rim to try and set up teammates, and the results were turnovers or worse looks.
There were flashes of the USA squad that could win gold in this game. USA Basketball came out playing aggressive defense, then running off turnovers and misses, and that became a 16-4 first-quarter run that gave the Americans a comfortable lead early. While that lead went up and down through the second, the USA held the lead and got it up to eight at the half, 45-37. Bam Adebayo led the way with 10 points in the first half, Lillard added nine.
It is perhaps a sign of the times that there were no questions from the press about the impact of social justice protests on the team. To what extent, if any, did that kind of distraction affect the preparation for the game?
No one from either the team or USA basketball will ever comment on it, but is it just a coincidence that two of the highest-profile national teams — men’s basketball and women’s soccer — suffered humiliating losses in their first tests at these Olympics after making a huge deal about how woke they are? Both teams are heavily favored to win the gold medal, yet they failed to live up to anyone’s expectations.
Both the basketball and soccer players gloried in their roles as “truth speakers” to the world, tearing down their own country and receiving the plaudits of the rest of the woke warriors in America. They have been humbled.
And I can’t think of a bunch more deserving to be brought low by their own hubris.