Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On This Day, July 6th: NBA Lockout Day 6 & International Ball


It'd been less than a week, but the Lockout was already causing harm. The damage was being done an ocean away in (I swear I'm not doing this on purpose) Greece where the absence of the U.S. would hurt attendance numbers. There are no official statistics, but the empty seats in many of those games didn't lie. The Greeks were hosts of the 16-team '98 FIBA World Championships which went from July 29th to August 9th:

Fallout from the NBA's labor troubles will be first felt in Greece, where the lockout will keep out star players who were to represent the United States at the World Championships.

The Greek Basketball Federation said it fears that without the headline names, revenue will tumble. Fans, including many who put off their traditional August holiday to attend the July 29-Aug. 9 tournament, just might decide the beach is more tempting than an arena without the NBA stars.

``The absence of the Dream Team is a wound to the success of our tournament,'' said the federation's secretary, Petros Kapagerof. ``We're all definitely disappointed.

We can't hide behind our hands and say that it's not a wound.''

The world championships are a major event, and the U.S. squad usually provides the biggest draw, with fans around the world eager to watch the American stars. With the lockout in place, however, USA Basketball removed the NBA players from the roster and will field a team composed of college players and pros from overseas and the Continental Basketball Association.

After the Olympics, it's the most prestigious tournament amongst national teams. I'm not alone when I say that though the bigger prize is winning an Olympic medal, the World Championships is generally the most difficult international tournament. The Lockout obviously would not get solved in time. So the U.S. ended up sending The Dirty Dozen (You can't make this up).

No active NBA players were allowed to play. Team USA consisted of Americans who were currently making a living in Europe, CBA, as well as a few college players. Trajan Langdon (who just retired after successful years at CSKA Moscow), former Magic man Kiwane Garris, Fab Five man Jimmy King, and Brad Miller (who was an undrafted free agent out of Purdue at the time) are the only recognizable Team USA members on that squad.

The U.S. still managed to get bronze, knocking off Greece in the 3rd place game 84-61 as Yugoslavia took the gold, inching out Russia in the title game 64-62. That U.S. squad was quite balanced. No American made the all-tournament team, nor even reach the top 10 of tournament scorers.

This time around there is no World Championship in danger. At the end of August, EuroBasket 2011 begins in Lithuania. Obviously, since this is a European tournament, there is no Team USA to put together. The Lockout is actually ensuring more locked out players will play for their nations once the action begins.

The only current Orlando Magic player that may partake is Hedo Turkoglu who would of course represent Turkey. He's on the preliminary roster, so odds are it's a given he'll play (especially since they are one of the favorites to win the whole thing). Last year, Turkey hosted the World Championships and their homecourt advantage was a big reason why they made it all the way to the title game.

Kevin Durant made the championship game a route, but there's no shame in finishing runner-up to the U.S. Turkoglu made the all-tournament team and was a surprisingly big reason why the Turks statistically had the best team defense. Spain, who won EuroBasket 2009, may be the tournament favorites depending on what studs they have on that roster.

No comments:

Post a Comment