Team USA – The Answer

This guy nailed it. When he is right, he is right. A tweak here and there, and we probably can apply the same principles to our teams over here in multiple sports.

Comments Canadians have gone through much of this “international game is different, we have the best players but don’t win, etc.” business over the last decade or so in hockey. The parallels in many ways are eerie, and well worth looking into. The influx of Europeans into the NHL draft was a huge issue in the late 90s, for instance.

But strangely, after some huge disappointments (e.g. the men’s team not winning in the Nagano Olympics) the country radically changed the way it handles international competitions. And I do mean radically.

First, they appointed a “general manager” responsible for personal selection for each international team. They do this for the annual tournaments like the World Junior’s and for the multi-year ones like the World Cup and the Olympics. This GM basically acts like the GM of a major franchise. He scouts for player selection, both on Canada’s team and to identify the strengths/weaknesses of other country’s teams. He selects the coaching staff. He is in charge of the whole process.

In Salt Lake City, after Canada tied a (much) inferior team, he gave a (now-famous) rant to the media about how the refereeing was biased against his team and how everybody in the world wanted the team to fail. The talk worked: the team didn’t have even a marginally close game the rest of the way. He took *responsibility* for the whole process.

Second, the country as a whole politicians, editorialists, and average fans made it clear that losing wasn’t acceptable. Sure, international rules are different the size of the rink is completely different! So what? We expect our teams to return with a gold medal each and every year in each and every tournament. Always.

Third, a wide array of developmental programs at the youth level were changed to help address the skill-deficiencies that had become evident at the international level. In hockey it was primarily skating and passing that had been under-emphasized for greater defensive and physical play. The bigger ice-surfaces in international hockey made this far more apparent. So now young players (e.g. age 6 and up) here get lots more training on those issues.

Fourth, being a member of the team was treated and regarded as a *privilege*, not a right. At any one time there may be three or four players in the NHL who would be assured of an invitation: the Shaq, KG, TD, and Kobe of the NHL, basically. The rest of the team? They go to a *TRY-OUT CAMP*. That’s right. Professional players get together with the coaches and go through drills and practices for a few days to get to know each other and for the coaches to see how they would fit together. There have been players who played themselves into positions on a team during these camps, and players who played themselves out of positions here too. This works because team membership is treated as a privilege.

Fifth, and finally, there was a concerted effort to decide on a style of play from the GM down to the coaching staff and to choose players that would fit that style. Recently one of Canada’s defensemen for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey withdrew. The coaches selected a youngish player who had attended the try-out camp. In explaining why they selected this guy, they explicitly described how his game was suited to both the style they wanted to play and to the structure and flow of the international game.

One final example of this approach at work: in Nagano, the Czech Republic had the single best player in the world on their team (Jagr). He was dominating the NHL, and was a threat to score just about every time he stepped on the ice. Team Canada knew that the Czechs were probably semi-final match-ups, so they took a defensive specialist with them. For that one game, he matched up with Jagr and held the guy scoreless the entire game. That’s like taking a Bowen or Artest on your team so that you can handle Arroyo or whoever else happens to get hot.

55 thoughts on “Team USA – The Answer

  1. They should be an all around team. (Detroit) I agree totally about a team try out camp. Bring out any NBA player who wants to play. Any college player. Lets get the 12 best players in the US to play on the National team. They should also take a page out of the Womens National Team. Make the team early and play some token games. Like the All Star Game. Thank you Mark for making basketball in Dallas fun again. Good luck on the upcoming season

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. We do what’s best for our families and ourselves. Not our country. Which in turn is why the best players aren’t here playing. Not one person on this current team would even THINK about attending a tryout! From the day they were introduced to the NBA they will never hear the word “no” again. Case in point Kobe. Maybe she said “no” he couldn’t handle hearing that and got a little too aggressive!

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. I consider myself an average Olympic fan who enjoys watching the USA Hockey Team play. Today I watched the game against swedin and noticed our goal tenders helmet with the stars and strips, but one thing on the side of the helmet made me proud of him and proud to ge an american. It was a small POW/MIA patch on it, to me this is a tribe to some of the forgotten people who help build and protect this country. I’m very proud of all you men giving your all for your country , you are an inspiration to all these young men that need to learn what built this great country of ours.
    Thank You,

    Mineman831@sbcglobal.net

    P.S. If it is possible to get a copy of our goaly in his helmet it would be a great honor to me to see that POW/MIA Patch on it.

    Comment by Thomas Ball -

  4. OK, so this is an old one, but with things heating up for 2008, it’s becoming timely again……here in the frozen north, we have a long tradition of participation in international hockey. Thus, it’s much more of an honour to be selected. In addition, while we kicked the world for a short time, they caught us unbelievably quickly. The Russians entered the World Championships for the first time in 1948. Canada, with a team comprised of amateurs (of course, this was also during the days of the 6-team NHL), whipped them 47 -0. That’s not a typo. The Russians went home for 6 years (and studied a supposedly outdated hockey manual written by a Canadian), and came back to beat us 7 -2 in the 1954 final. That was a huge kick in the ass, and we needed it. We still continued to send amateurs, but by the 1960s, it was obvious that we needed to send a better squad. There were some politics between Canada and the Internaional Ice Hockey Federation (actually, there’s a LONG history of it), so we stopped competing internationally altogether after the 68 Olympics. Then came the famouse 72 Series against the Russians, in which they kicked us in the ass AGAIN, 7-2 in the opener (after we had taken a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes). That we only managed to win this thing with a huge comeback in the final period of the 8th and final game set us firmly on a course to always send and train our best. There have been setbacks, and will continue to be, but international hockey for Canadians is just a notch below the Stanley Cup. It’s just not the same in basketball……

    Comment by Doug -

  5. Make a trade for Vince!

    Comment by Will Webb -

  6. Here’s how you improve the US team in the olympics.

    1) Change the rules in the nba to match the international rules. It’s a more pure form of basketball, and it’s enjoyable to watch teams win instead of individuals.

    2) Put together a team that’s more balanced. Shooters, defensive players, role players all included.

    3) Put together a team based on who your opponents are. When you know you’re going to face guys like Manu and Gasol, have players that match up well against them.

    4) Give the team way more time to get to know each other. For instance, put the team through some summer league games to warm up.

    Also, I’m not a big fan of the use an nba team for the olympics. For so many reasons, that’s a bad idea.

    Comment by Chris -

  7. i wish mark would take a look at our site and throw money our way

    Comment by trevor -

  8. The USA needs a national team, or at least some sort of regular program. I think lesser nba players who are part of a team concept will do much better than random top players thrown together a few weeks before international events

    Comment by basketball -

  9. Regarding the post above by DisappointedLikeHeck, the NBA champs would have done much better than TeamUSA. The level of play in the rest of the world has increased to the point where you can’t send a super-pickup team to play. We need to have a great team go over and play, not just a bunch of great players.

    Comment by Viagara Guy -

  10. Posted by craptor:
    “the us may be the best, but basketball was invented further north: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball

    In your own link it said teh game was invented, and first played, in Massechusetts. Though it was invented by a Canadian, it was invented right here in the good ‘ole USofA.:

    “Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian, invented basketball in 1891, at a college for YMCA professionals in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first official basketball game was played there on January 20, 1892.”

    I wonder if anti-american sentiment has ran so deep that we don’t even get that credited.

    Dr. Naismeth was a US citizen. Se, that’s what’s great about ou country: Anyone, fron any background can just come here, join up, and be as great as they have ambition and want and drive to be.

    ~The Last Patriot

    Comment by Joshua Page -

  11. Just read my last article on my blog, and decide where you stand.

    http://www.sportspot.joshcom.net

    Comment by Joshua Page -

  12. A big motivator for Canadian hockey players is “being a member of the team was treated and regarded as a *privilege*, not a right.”

    Is that going to work with American pro athletes? Yeah, right. Name the sport. name the pro athlete that took a pass on the Olympics. Cycling? Hmm? Tennis? Hmm & hmm? Keep going.

    We all know, though most of us are probably afraid to state it, that among US pro “team” athletes, basketball and football players stand out for spelling “team” with as many “I”s as they can get and that as long as they’ve got their bling or blang or whateveritis they can do very well without the “privilege” of trying out to play on some team that isn’t going to pay them a quarter mil per game.

    I’m gonna wait for the movie “Show me the Olympic pin”.

    Comment by Ralph Cox -

  13. “The US invented basketball, the US should be taking home the gold every year.”

    the us may be the best, but basketball was invented further north: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball

    Comment by craptor -

  14. Team USA for hockey has a program similar to Canada for its team, so the precedent exists in this country. As far as tryouts go, maybe the first time it’s tried, some “superstars” may not participate, but after awhile, the tryouts become part of the landscape and accepted. For those who would never subject themselves to such a thing, the heck with ’em.

    For a different perspective on why our current Olympic team is not fairing well, I present to you Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins:

    “Black basketball is much more individualistic,” he says. “With so many other opportunities closed to young black kids, the basketball court in the playground or the schoolyard is one of the few places where they can assert themselves in a positive way. So if somebody makes you look bad with a shake-and-bake move, then you’ve got to come right back at him with something better, something more stylish. And if someone fouls you hard, you’ve got to foul him even harder. It’s all about honor, pride, and establishing yourself as a man.”

    Why is white basketball so structured and team-oriented?

    “Because the white culture places more of a premium on winning,” Dawkins believes, “and less on self-indulgent preening and chest-beating.”

    Read the whole thing. Just one man’s comments.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/story/2638592

    Comment by Rick -

  15. It’s incredible. Apparently, the first loss hasn’t woken up Team USA at all. This shows that this is NOT a problem of motivation or anything related to not playing at their full potential, as I am certain that they were playing their butts off to avoid another embarassment. There are deep fundamental problems with the team, coaching, style of play, what not.
    What do you think will happen if Detroit Pistons were to play as Team USA?

    Comment by DisappointedLikeHeck -

  16. I’m glad you add those comments, it was interesting to hear how Canadian solved their problem. The movie Miracle was another answer that I thought was worth noting and watching, at least once.

    Here’s a little synopsis ala Amazon.com:

    The miracle about Miracle is that it gets so many details right in telling its 24-year-old story about the historic victory of the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Olympic Games.

    p.s.

    Hey Mark,

    I missed your blogging for a while there. Keep ’em coming, they’re fab.

    Mary from Big D

    Comment by Mary -

  17. NO ONE LIKES YOU ANYMORE…THANKS FOR SCREWING THE WHOLE TEAM OVER

    Comment by asdf -

  18. Good points. Having someone like Magic, Bird or Jordan act as GM would bring credibility to the process. Even if some of the big egos refused to “try-out” the GM would make sure the team would still be balanced enough to win at the international game.

    The current NBA game is different from the International leagues in a couple of very significant ways:
    1. The international 3-pt shot. The 19-21ft shot is rarely taken in the NBA. The international players playing in the Euro leagues are specialists at this distance. If you think the longer NBA 3pt shot is an advantage for NBA shooters you are mistaken. The feel and mindset is much different. I think that US Basketball ought to seriously consider inviting a couple of the best college 3-pt shooters to play. They are used to the distance (international line is only slightly longer) and would need to make less of an adjustment to their game.
    2. Fouls. The international rules are far more like NCAA rules than NBA rules. Contact is called more often. This has been very evident in some of the soft fouls Boozer and Duncan have got throughout these games. Referees also look to allow the defense to take charges. The NBA almost always gives the benefit of the doubt to the offense resulting in very few charges being called.
    3. General Philosophy. The NBA is all about the biggest and strongest being allowed to out-muscle the opponent. Even at the guard position, there is no room in the NBA for lightweights as they will just be bumped off the ball. Finese and skill are rewarded in the international game. As I mentioned taking a charge in the NBA is almost never called.
    4. Team. Perhaps due to the lack of phenom athletes the euro players need their team mates to be successful. NBA rules allow for the emergence of the great athletes to take over the game. But even the greatest athlete would have problems beating all five players on the floor. The international rules allow zones to shut down the great athletes unless they have help from their team mates.

    The international game is a more pure form of basketball as it was originally intended. The NBA spends too much time worrying about the entertainment value. As a result the NBA game looks very different than the game played overseas. And that’s why the NBA players have a tougher time adjusting.

    Comment by Jim -

  19. Amen brother.

    Running the program like this would probably solve another problem too. Ego. I really think a few (very few) players over the past couple USA teams walk in thinking “I’m an NBA star, this will be a gimmie.”

    Then they get a wake up call.

    Comment by Robert -

  20. i totally agree with u mark…a guy like michael redd or brent barry woulda helped

    Comment by dan -

  21. You were awesome on McEnroe, Mark. Way to represent!

    Comment by David -

  22. He would be better suited than Emeka” I’m a PF, but can’t hit an open jumper” Okafor.

    When he’s open, it’s going down 95% of the time. In this environment, he wouldn’t even have to force them like he does sometimes at Duke. Plus, most teams probably have never heard of him and if they have they have they6 still don’t realize what a great pure shooter he is. They can have all these athletic guys penetrate and kick it out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ledthe team in scoring either. He’s one of those guys who will not be a good NBA player, but his game would be a defininte plus to the Olympic team

    Comment by J.R. Ewing -

  23. International competition is no longer the draw it once was for superstars, why would you want to play during your vacation for nothing? sponsors dont really care about the olympics since the target demographic won’t be watching.

    And players are now supposed to go to tryout camps? I can really see Kobe/Shaq doing that. Why bother playing for your country anyway? If you lose, you are a public figure for blame and hatred, it’ll cost sponsorship deals. If you win, nothing, it was expected of you.

    I don’t blame the NBA guys, they go through months of travel and physical punishment, they deserve a break. I can’t say I’d be inclined to go play for my country if there was no financial incentive in it for me, call it selfish all you like but you have to lookout for yourself first and foremost.

    Comment by Kanes -

  24. great points Cuban. I like your webblog.

    can I have a million dollars?

    Comment by FrankRealGM -

  25. A big reason for the return to dominance of Team Canada was because of the leadership of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky (the two biggest names in Canadian hockey). The great one took the role of putting the team together and then Mario starred as Captain. What this did was show the rest of the players that this team was for real. That Canada was going to put together the best team possible and that being a part of it was being part of something special. No person would turn it down, because they made it important. For US basketball to do the same, people like Magic, Bird and Jordan should be in charge of creating the Dream Team. An invitation coming from Jordan is a little harder to turn down. Also, longtime NBA veterans need to be a part of it. Unfortunately there aren’t many greats left in the NBA, like Mario Lemiuex in the NHL. But the point is, for all players to take it seriously and want to play, then you need to have proper leadership. Also, the NBA players need to learn how to be part of the US Olympic team. Just because they are rich doesn’t mean they shouldn’t live in the village. The NHLers did and believe me they are like gods in Canada. For the biathlete from northern Quebec, Mario Lemieux is god. Yet he managed to live in the village like all the athletes and if you ask any of them, it made the experience all the better. The NBA is lacking leadership from its greatest stars.

    Comment by Fraser -

  26. Have we considered that the NBA is crappy? Seriously, most of the eastern conference teams are a joke. And some owners would rather collect their luxury tax from other owners than spend a few bucks to win. Really, the league is mostly crappy players with a few superstars. As such, a collection of the best players are still crap.

    I’m pretty sure that modern science has proven that we can’t turn crap into gold.

    Where do I sign up for the 2008 try outs?

    Comment by Steven -

  27. Tim Duncan would. If everyone had to try out, stars included, I bet Allen Iverson would too.

    Comment by Andrew -

  28. I think the comments are pretty valid except for one caveat: in hockey, you have 6 teams that are relatively equal in skill and talent – Canada, US, Sweden, Czech, Russia and Finland. At least enough that every matchup does not have a heavy favourite.

    USA Basketball is undergoing an identity crisis more akin to the 1972 Canadian hockey wake up call after the Summit series with Russia – a realization that just sending SOME of our best is not good enough because the rest of the world’s systems, coaching and most importantly, talent are catching up.

    There are too many layers to peel off this onion –

    1)Should the US be sending its best? Of course – I won’t argue with MC on the marketing logic because he’s right, but as a fan, we deserve to see the best against the best in international play. In fact, I think it actually to the benefit of the NBA because as more of these Euros and other foreign players enter the league, they are not victims of xenophobic “foreigners taking our jobs” comments, and more highly touted talent infusion. Let us also not forget the international audience and potential revenue base that this creates. The Italian thrashing can only help create interest in the NBA because of an increased belief that their players can play with the best, and aim to join the best league in the world.

    2) The “failure” of the US team is a combination of poor selection, inability to play the international game, and improvement by other teams – The same way that the NBA championship was as much about Detroit’s success as the Laker’s failures….sure we know who had the best talent on the court, but that’s only part of the equation – coaching, chemistry, matchups, etc. are all equally significant, which is WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES! I’m surprised at the number of people reacting to this as if it were a fantasy team that didn’t pan out.

    3) I think if there were more grace, pride and effort, on the part of the US players, it would be easier to accept what’s happening. But instead of hearing Tim Duncan, Okafor or Marion speak, we’re subjected to whinings and immature statements from players like Carmelo, LeBron and the like.

    Comment by Sumit Arora -

  29. This guy is so right. And Team Canada isn’t the only international power in any given sport using this formula…. its basically the same process put in use by the national football (soccer) team in England… Actually, I wonder if Team Canada modeled their system after the FA’s in England…

    Comment by Rob -

  30. You should print that post out and fax it to David Stern. Screw this marketing crap. The US invented basketball, the US should be taking home the gold every year.

    Comment by Tom H. -

  31. simplest solution is to send a complete nba team that is used to playing together. the teams that didn’t make the playoffs already had a vacation, let them play the extra games. even the blazers or wizards would have a better chance to win the gold than a bunch of disparate “all stars”. of course teams with a lot of foreign players would be ineligible, making mark very happy😉

    Comment by emil -

  32. Mark

    I agree with you entire article. Team USA might win the Gold Medal. Then again they might not. 2 things lacking on this team. 1 – a 15-17 ft jump shooter (ala a Brent Barry) 2 – most notable a defensive stopper. (Ron Artest Bruce Bowen), From now on Team USA should never be an all star team. They should be an all around team. (Detroit) I agree totally about a team try out camp. Bring out any NBA player who wants to play. Any college player. Lets get the 12 best players in the US to play on the National team. They should also take a page out of the Womens National Team. Make the team early and play some token games. Like the All Star Game. Thank you Mark for making basketball in Dallas fun again. Good luck on the upcoming season

    Comment by Anthony Burris -

  33. To emphasize the importance of teamwork over big names as good marketing, check here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5751288/

    Why Puerto Rico has its own Olympic team: http://www.slate.com/id/2105234/

    Comment by Joshua Persons -

  34. Everyone has answers, but noone has addressed what the real problem is.

    How does Puerto Rico have a team? They are not a state, let alone a country. On the same grounds, couldn’t we send North Carolina to compete. There always seems to be talent in that state.

    Comment by Greg Wilson -

  35. Not sure why we care if the members of the current team would not attend a tryout. I think thats some of the problem, you need to find players who want to play for the USA. I personally would rather have a team that played together and acted like they wanted to be there then the current team. The biggest problem is that the NBA front office got involved and the focuse was on which players do we need to market oversees rather then winning games.

    Comment by bob -

  36. Why can’t we say that Team Canada’s GM was Wayne Gretzky?

    Comment by 53K1 -

  37. I thought the article was a great idea. Problem is it will never work in America. We’re all for the most part out for ourselves and our families ONLY. Case in point look at the war. I’m a fan of Bush but in 9/11 w/ Moore, he points out no average 19 – 25 yr old making $40k a year wants to go fight a war. We do what’s best for our families and ourselves. Not our country. Which in turn is why the best players aren’t here playing. Not one person on this current team would even THINK about attending a tryout! From the day they were introduced to the NBA they will never hear the word “no” again. Case in point Kobe. Maybe she said “no” he couldn’t handle hearing that and got a little too aggressive! We are ALL about money notariety and stats. That would be AWESOME if we could get players to be the way the Canadian teams are, but not a chance in Hell will it happen.

    Comment by Matt Oliver -

  38. Greg — I think you’re right about marketing being important at the world level, but I think your conclusions are way off-base. You seem to be assuming that having the NBA’s biggest names will be the best international marketing strategy, but I doubt it. I think a much better strategy would be to have excellence on the court, and to dominate our opponents, no matter what big names we bring to play. But I could be wrong . . .

    Comment by Joshua Persons -

  39. Your comments about the Olympics (and, I assume, other international competitions) not being important for marketing were still way off.

    Maybe it’s not important for marketing in the US (see how MLS is still struggling), but look at how it affects overseas interest. It’s no coincidence that there’s been an influx of foreign players into the NBA since 1992’s dream team. Foreign interest in the game of basketball has exploded since then. Imagine what a dream team of baseball would do for the overseas market. However, it’d be hard to predict this, as baseball already has a very Latin flavor to it.

    Comment by Greg -

  40. The idea of a GM and tryouts is nice and all, but it’s really not needed. The original players selected, Shaq, Kobe, KG, Kidd, ect., would have owned all of the international teams. The problem is that we had to use second tier guys. Most of our best players are not in Greece. Most of the other countries have their best players in Greece. Put our superstars that were suppose to go up against their superstars that did go and we would win by a landslide each and every time.

    Comment by Brad -

  41. Mark, you yourself said that having NBA players in international competitions is a bad idea. How does this ‘answer’ fix that?

    The fundamental problem still seems to be that ‘winning the olympics’ is just not in economic interest of *ANY* NBA team. Until you can align the interests of the owners with the goal of winning the olympics, it doesn’t matter how good the system is, you will never get the best players.

    Comment by Craig -

  42. that would be great! Nellie should be the coach.

    Comment by jordan -

  43. Americans aren’t as smart as Canadians. That’s why we’re in Iraq and they aren’t.

    Comment by Entertainment News -

  44. I don’t have a lot to add to that other than Canada will most likely win in the gold again because of the reasons you mentioned. Great parallel.

    Comment by Rob -

  45. Your solution, while admirable, cannot work. In hockey, players are ingrained from the first day to focus on the team. Individual stats are nice, but players are tight lipped, generally don’t self promote, and focus on winning championships more than being a star.

    In basketball, Americans learn early on that the game is about you. You play well? Get on an AAU team. You are a star? Get recruited and earn shoe contracts and endorsements later on. The NBA game is also heavily individualized (part of the reason we struggle at the international level), whereas the NHL focuses on team defense and responsibilities first.

    Now there are exceptions, but by and large this is the culture that most people deal with. Now ask yourself this one- will LeBron James attend a “try-out” camp? Hell no. That would be an insult to the individual. But in hockey it works- the players subjegate themselves for the greater good of the team. I am not trying to say the USA basketball players aren’t team players, but superstar hoopsters aren’t going to “try-out.”

    Comment by Paul Levine -

  46. The post about how Team Canada is selected and the follow-up post about how the USA Soccer team is selected proves what a mess USA Basketball is.

    No wonder Mark doesn’t want his players competing. I can’t blame him.

    Regardless of whether we win or lose, the whole process needs to change.

    Invite players to a try out camp that actually WANT to play on the team. Properly scout the opponents before the tryout camp. Then, run the camp using International rules to see who would “fit” on a team built to win games…not sell jerseys.

    Comment by Scott Patterson -

  47. I found the guys post in the comments and here is his name and website:

    Itatsumaki
    http://www.xanga.com/Itatsumaki

    Comment by Bill K -

  48. The solution is really easy. All the USA needs to do is be smart about their player selections. All this doom and gloom is making the problem out to be worse than it is. No NBA GM would select a team with as many swingmen as this Olympic team has. Stern and NBA Inc. need to forget about using the Olympics as a marketing tool and just pick a quality team. Don’t just send out invitations to the best players and go down your list. Get some pure points, some shooters, some versatile big men, etc. It’s not that difficult.

    Comment by NBA Rumors -

  49. Go back to college players.
    We won’t expect them to win (even though we did back in the day), so when they do it will sweeter all the more.

    Plus, I don’t want my NBAllers getting hurt. Dirk should stay home anyway. Germany’s smaller than Texas, and not even half as frat.

    Comment by required -

  50. I am with this guy 100% on tryouts. Anyone from college to NBA should be made to try out (maybe thru invitation). I’m almost praying the US will lose. Artest should be there instead of Jefferson, that’s for sure.

    Comment by Mark -

  51. We need to completely reapproach the way we address our USA basketball team. If they want to win, the approach must be different. If we want to sell jerseys, take whoever gets the most fan votes in the all-star game. Nonetheless, the committee who invited this group should be embarressed. Stern? Thorn? Jackson? I don’t know, but someone is responsible. The players can only do their best given their abilities and understanding and comfort level with the int’l game. Its up to the selection committee to actually choose players who can actually contribute to the type of game being played. Dunk contests need not apply.

    Comment by Scott Griffith -

  52. But I want to hear your thoughts on the trade speculations.

    Comment by brian darley -

  53. Mark – Since you reprinted so much of his text, you really should have credited the author’s name right in this post.

    Comment by Joshua Flanagan -

  54. All those things you point out are very similar to how the US soccer team is selected. The coach is more or less the GM and selects the team. During the year he will invite players in for friendly matches to see how they would be in his “style” and sometimes he selects them and other times he doesn’t.

    I think we are in a interesting time in basketball where the NBA is still the best place to play in the world, and Americans overall are the best players, but there isn’t a distinctive style of play by Americans like there used to be. And the influx of foreign players has altered how the NBA operates.

    Comment by Givingbid.com -

  55. A number of very good points from my fellow Canadian. What he fails to clarify, I think, is that the Canadian skills deficit was being felt in the NHL as well. We could skate and hit with the best of them, but the top scorers were increasingly coming from Europe. They did some analysis, and found that development programs in Europe focussed more on skills than strategy, had a much higher practice-to-game ratio and encouraged creativity.

    I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I’m pretty sure that’s not happening in the NBA yet. That is, American-born players are still dominating the game. As such, I guess the US national team didn’t have as much warning as our Canadian hockey program did.

    Comment by Darren -

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