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Show time in Beijing!!! But where's the beef?


"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network


Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) - Check it out...8/8/08 and it spells Beijing. The Summer Olympics. The world stage for the ostensible best athletes in the world. A venue with more problems than a hive of bees that just realized the honey supply is gone. No flags from Tibet, many representative dignitaries boycotting. Floods. Construction running late. An airport that will resemble Disney or Universal on a day when either security has been heightened to code red or they have dispensed with it entirely and the summer crowds have arrived.

NBC is probably sending as many personnel as will be competing. The coverage, from opening to closing ceremonies, will eclipse anything that has gone before it. A digital camera concession is probably a better idea than flags, shirts, pins, food concessions, programs or black market tickets (they shoot people in China for dong that, right?).

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps will lead the US Swim Team heading into Beijing.
Michael Phelps will be the centerpiece of activity and highlight films. Can Phelps actually do it, can he break the most prized record in swimming: Mark Spitz's seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics? Back then, at age twenty-two, Spitz made history by winning seven gold medals and breaking another seven world records. He won the one-hundred meter butterfly, the two-hundred meter butterfly, the one-hundred meter free-style, the two-hundred free-style, the four-hundred meter free-style, the eight-hundred meter free-style, and the four-hundred meter medley relay.

Phelps might lose a race or two if another country enters a swordfish, marlin, bluefin tuna, dolphin or shark.

But, that aside, my focus will be on the basketball team. This is the sport that we originated, the one that we did not borrow from another country, converting it to our own use. Hey, we own it and that means (participants from other countries now making millions at our shores aside) we are not supposed to lose. We wrote the book, edited it, published and sold it. This is our game, from three-on-three in the schoolyards that dot our inner city and suburban landscapes to the colleges and NBA where talents are honed and perfected. We are bigger, stronger, faster, more united, focused, steadfast, determined, full of pride of country and on a mission. So it says here.

From the Managing Director of the team (whatever that title means besides having deep pockets) Jerry Colangelo, to Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski from Duke University, Assistant Coaches Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University, Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks and Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers we have put together a brain trust with a directive to bring home the gold. Easier said than done, unless all take it more seriously than a trip as tourists.

LeBron James
Expect Team USA to be a quicker team, led by Lebron James.
There's enough talent on this star-studded aggregation to rip through the rest of the entries like Grant taking Richmond but there's also a notable absence of beef. Maybe we don't need a somewhat aging Shaquille O'Neal or Tim Duncan. Maybe. That means going for the cheetahs in the league... Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Kidd, Dwight Howard (our "beef"), Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh. It means Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams to orchestrate the offense when Kidd takes a breather, or sizing down to Chris Paul at 6' to spare any of them when they need a respite or the game is out of reach...for the U.S. And, there is always sharp-shooter Michael Redd.

The U.S. won the Gold Medal in 2000, beating France by 10 points, 85-75 after edging Lithuania in the semifinals, 85-83 You have to be kidding with that one. I can put a team from Harlem or the Sonny Hill League in Philadelphia on the court and beat Lithuania. The red, white and blue then won the Bronze Medal in 2004, beating Lithuania again, 104-96. Be still my beating heart!!! They did, however, lose to Argentina (the Gold Medal winner) in the semifinals, 89-81.

The vastly over-rated Larry Brown, then with the Detroit Pistons, was at the helm of that debacle.

This is our game, our peach basket, the sport that a Canadian, Dr. James A. Naismith, invented. A physical education instructor who was, by the way, also responsible for introducing the helmet in football. Oh yes, name the game that inspired basketball and you will wow your trivia buddies. This one is good for as many beers as you can handle (see below). It is our game because he, Dr. Naismith, was teaching in Massachusetts at the time. Whew! We are not supposed to lose this one, not ever, and I do not care how many NBA stars are playing for other countries nor am I concerned with some of the ridiculous Olympic rules or referees with myopic vision and a not-always-subtle bias against the U.S.

It is not our game to win; it is ours to lose at this stage. If "Coach K" and his minions cannot figure that out long enough to stop taking photos, trading pins and signing autographs, then they should not come home. This is not "do the best you can." This is, like Phelps, Olympics war, hand-to-hand combat, take no prisoners mentality, self-esteem and bringing the Stars 'n Stripes to the podium to collect the gold.

Any shot of our losing? You gotta be kidding!!

TRIVIA ANSWER: "Duck on a Rock"