h&f 0036 Juegos Olímpicos de Pekín: Basketball USA d. Spain

This is not an easy topic.  I try to navigate it without hyping the edges or details – because I know a lot of folks unfortunately get a kick out of the fire that attends discussions pertaining to race.  I’m trying a different approach, but will still be straight with it.

…Abriendo los juegos con polémica política. Spain’s first distinction in the tournament was an inauspicious one.  They unfortunately join the brand of athletes worldwide not particularly known for sainthood or having an exit strategy before acting.    They caught themselves off guard for the responses they received. Apart, NBA basketball has also fought hard to maintain its brand integrity in the face of incidents that cut against the core of what they’re trying to do and be in the eyes of families worldwide.  So, let’s hold our conclusions and judgments for a moment…

The Chinese have officially called the gesture “neither racist or offensive.”  As they operate from a wholly different context in how they perceive such acts, it’s not on anyone to judge them and tell they how they should be offended or express offense.  Nor is is a good thing to go free-for-all on Spain, again recognizing cultural context, i.e. not excusing behaviour but also not condemning with petty whining, rather using it as an entry point for discussion.  It will be progress when we can take incidents like these and actually start with the blank slate of intention (“I didn’t mean it.”) not as an excuse but rather as a legitimate point of departure (“So, how can we talk about it.”)  As you read the article from the Spanish paper El Pais (click the image), you will see that there does seem to be a basic world standard of conduct that at least causes questioning, even in Spain.  You will also find a familiar sounding thread of responses.

Now, the auspicious distinction? Making the final as a respected competitor to the US.

Just now, however, the US Men’s Basketball Selection has defeated Spain in what played out as a close match, with Spain coming as close as six points in the final two minutes.  Two key plays sealed the momentum and the deal that carried the victory.  A three-pointer by Kobe Bryant that followed a menacing three-pointer by the Spanish squad.  Then another by Dwayne Wade who gave a self-motivating playground grin, reminiscent of the original meaning of funky as put down so eloquently in the 70’s by George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars.  [Peee Yoo! Make my funk the P-Funk. I wants my funk uncut.]

The world has gained ground, and we will have to attribute it to the mass diffusion of basketball in the world.   Kobe offers a summary (ny times) of how the US has also caught up to the way the game is played internationally:  “Everybody wants to talk about N.B.A. players being selfish and arrogant and being individuals,” Bryant said. “Well, what you saw today was a team bonded together, facing adversity and coming out of here with a big win.”

The close game makes modern declarations on fast-twitches and athletic predispositions of black people and all corollary pronouncements a little more suspect as it is highly doubtful that the Spaniards have in the infinitesimal evolutionary span of the 20-year, pronounced rise in world competition, achieved the physical attributes that were assumed to make black players naturally better.  Spain and other countries have simply embraced basketball from the playground to the elite courts in the world.  Politics and race aside, that’s good for Spain.  Good for Sport.  Good for the US.   Some images from NBC’s live web telecast…

the final score

a little dance…


~ by ericjhenderson on August 24, 2008.

3 Responses to “h&f 0036 Juegos Olímpicos de Pekín: Basketball USA d. Spain”

  1. Now that the Gold Metal has come back to the U.S., the debate begins, who is better team: The 1992 Dream Team or this years Redeem Team? You decide. 🙂


  2. Whew! If I were to pit a prime time Dream Team versus a prime time Redeem Team, I’m still goin’ Dream. I look at the Dream, but not without complications. First, as I mention above, the world’s level has risen dramatically as we found out in 1996. So, measuring them is more a matter of Dream vs. Redeem than vs. their respective competition.

    With that poor man’s philosophy as basis, this comes down to a Kobe vs. Jordan – two of the hands-down pure competitors in the game. So that’s all sparks flying. A lights-out Bird with nobody to stop him. Pippen vs. Anthony – goin pip on that one. Guard play would be interesting. Paul v Stockton – interesting.

    I’ll stop as I’m already wound up, but …Dream takes it.

  3. “The world’s level has risen dramatically as we found out in 1996. So, measuring them is more a matter of Dream vs. Redeem than vs. their respective competition.”

    You make a VERY valid point. The international competition has grown dramatically. And yes, 1992 wins over 2008. 🙂

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