Giant on the move
U.S. rout China — but just wait another 117 years
The Olympic basketball match between China and the United States just ended with the U.S. pulling away to win 101-70 in what they say was the most-watched event sporting event in China’s history.
It’ll be no surprise if the estimates are right and a billion or so people around the world were tuned in to watch what was after all an irresistible contest – a meeting between the “Reds” and the “Red-White-and-Blues” and one laden with symbols.
Given the circumstances it was truly more than just a game — and I found myself wondering what James Naismith, who invented basketball in 1891 by putting up two peach baskets, would have thought had he been here too.
I had a great seat, not all that far from where U.S. President George W. Bush was watching, and a few rows over from actress Glenn Close, and even though I’m an American — and an avid follower of Olympic basketball ever since the United States got robbed by the Soviet Union in the electrifying final of the 1972 Munich Olympics — I found myself “oohing” and “aahing” like everyone else.
I even found myself cheering for the scintillating team play of China and the sheer joy that erupted in the seats around me when China scored.
At the same time the Chinese fans were out of the seats cheering every great American pass or basket — especially the spectacular, gravity-defying dunks form a U.S. team who seemed to be true to their promise of a new attitude after the humbling experience of Athens in 2004.
Basketball is a huge sport in China and many of the Chinese people I’ve talked say they watch the NBA all the time on television. It’s still much better, they confide, than their CBA. But, like everything else in Beijing, China is catching up.
And who knows what will happen in another 117 years?
PHOTO: Kobe Bryant of the U.S. slam dunks against China during their Group B men’s basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson