Giant on the move
Loaded with outrageous talent, the United States men’s basketball team insist they will be checking egos at the door at the Beijing Olympics.
Boasting Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and its leading scorer, the Americans are favourites to win gold, although 2004 Athens gold medallists Argentina and world champions Spain will push them all the way.
The U.S. have won 12 Olympic men’s titles but have often been accused of arrogance. The current crop, who play hosts China in their opening Olympic game on Aug. 10, will have a different attitude. “You can’t be arrogant and win!” said American coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The arrogance of old has been replaced by humility, individualism and show-boating by team ethic. They have looked unstoppable in their warm-up games. But will it be enough for the ‘Redeem Team’ to win gold ahead of sharp-shooting Argentina and Spain?
The Olympic soccer tournament, which starts next Thursday, has enjoyed unprecedented publicity in the run-up to Beijing, unwittingly helped by the belligerent attitude of the European clubs.
In their attempts to avoid releasing Argentina striker Lionel Messi for the Games, Barcelona helped raise the profile of the competition to a level it has rarely enjoyed in the past.
Barcelona finally relented last Wednesday when FIFA reinforced its ruling that clubs must release their under-23 players, although the Spanish club have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports and will demand the player fly back from China if there is a ruling in their favour.