In my brother’s blog today, he asks whether, after beating top metal contender Spain by almost 40 points, the U.S. national basketball team, dubbed the Redeem Team, is better than its 1992 predecessor the Dream Team. I commented as follows:
I read an interesting statistic in the Spanish sport’s paper Marca today that during the ’92 Olympics, the Dream Team beat Spain by 41 points. Today the Redeem Team beat Spain by 37 points.
There is no doubt that today’s Spain team is far superior, as is the international competition overall, to its ’92 predecessor. That can only mean two things: first the U.S. team today is better than the ’92 dream team, or that the U.S.’s defeats during the last 16 years was due more to the U.S.’s fault than the rest of the world’s achievement.
So now my question is, is the 2008 Spanish team better than its 1992 predecessor? Or better yet, has European ball really improved or were recent U.S. teams simply too arrogant in not taking international play seriously?
As an aside, I have a comment about Spanish patriotism. After having lived in Spain for the past eight years, I have learned a great deal about Spanish culture and especially patriotism. In Spain, patriotism is highly frowned upon and considered analogous to fascism (ie, 40 years of Franco’s flag waving dictatorship). As a result, Spaniards often gasp at Americans and their love of the stars and stripes.
Nevertheless, Spanish people are — against their own wills — one of the most patriotic people I have met, even if they do not have the Brazilian, Norwegian, Argentine or American passion for flags. Spaniards are irrationally defensive of their diet, convinced of their lifestyle (if I had defunct peseta for each time I was asked rhetorically whether life was better in Spain . . .), and, as proven herein, are incapable of even admitting the childishness of the Basketball and tennis team’s actions. But most of all, I have noticed the patriotism in the way that the sporting events are covered, reported, and followed.
Yes, I admit that in every country around the world Olympic coverage will be heavily focused on domestic and not foreign coverage. The U.S. does this as does every other country. I will also admit that the winners of the NFL, NBA, and MLB misleadingly call themselves world champions. Having said that, though, there is a world of difference — which I have learned recently — in watching Spain compete in Spanish and non Spanish media. The Spanish media is so incredibly biased, constantly complaining and blaming every unforced error on poor officiating, and in the case of the Euro Cup this summer, chanting “goal” before the player even takes the shot.
Like my experience in watching Spain vs. Italy in the Euro Cup on French television (I was rooting for Spain), it was refreshing to watch the USA vs. Spain basketball game today on U.S. television. The commentars complemented Spanish players throughout the game, talked about their potential, and were excited about the ones who would be entering the NBA. It was never an “us vs. them” scenario, but rather balanced and positive commentary.
To date, Spain has had a great summer: The Euro Cup, the French Open, Wimbeldon, and the Tour de France. It is amazing that a relatively small country has performed so well. But spend any time listening to the Spanish media as it obsesses about Nadal or Fernando Alonso (and whines about Hamilton), the superiority of the Spanish Liga, and you’ll know just why I felt good that the U.S. — not because I am American but because they were the better team — beat Spain by 37 points. Thirty-seven points? That’s like winning in soccer by five goals, and that’s not a good trend for European basketball.