For all you people who worry that the Olympics are simply too fraught with viral load to be held in Japan or for that matter anywhere else, it would seem that all you really need to do is give it a little time. Take for example, the slowly disappearing United States men’s basketball team.
While we’re not averse to bringing up the weirdly combative Gregg Popovich–Joe Vardon pissing contest again, it would seem at this point that the team needs Vardon more than not, and that they might actually need him as a player. Bradley Beal is out with the Delta, Jerami Grant is in the protocol, Kevin Love just took a hike, and with Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton still refusing to practice with USA Basketball because they’re screwing around in the NBA Finals, the U.S. team was down to six players. Six. Frankly, at this point, they could use Nneka Ogwumike, who apparently can’t play for Nigeria because that would upset the balance of international diplomacy.
The immediate response to this we-can’t-find-people-to-take-these-jobs crisis was to name JaVale McGee, who is well known, and Keldon Johnson, who is slightly less so, to the team. This is well in keeping with the semi-assembled shambles of these Games, and that’s on all the various OCs, starting with the I and US and continuing down the blazered atlas. This whole risible exercise should have been DNP-CD’d a long time ago, but once again humans have made the mistake of thinking that the virus gives a single Bolsonaro about them or their schedules.
So now we’re here, and the most powerful basketball-playing country on Earth is spotting the other good countries half-a-roster for the time being. Somehow, xenophobes will make this proof that we don’t care about old-timey virtues like kicking the ass off every other team in every game, when in fact the problem isn’t really that, but just getting to the opening ceremonies without having to forfeit to France and Draymond Green and Steve Kerr wandering off toward the beach.
Given the new developments, though, Vardon’s question about how We Used To Make Blowouts In This Country seems post-dated, in that this isn’t about margin of victory any more, but getting out with their pants still intact. Even after filling out the roster, the U.S. won’t have enough prep time to destroy the rest of the field even if it had access to all the talent it would need for that. This means that, for those of you invested in the fraction of the U.S. team that decides to undertake this quest, the games themselves have a better chance to be competitive/enjoyable. Hell, maybe they even fail to win gold, and a certain slice of America can have its version of fun all fall and winter damning the players as being unworthy or inferior or not sufficiently Cold War–ish. But that’s their deal. The truth is this quilted burlap bag of a team is exactly what these Olympics need, and deserve. If this is about refusing to knuckle under to the ViruStars, this is the virus being up 77-41 at the half. Bet the under with confidence.
On the other hand, saying “Screw it” and quitting like champions is also an intriguing option, even for Gregg Popovich and Joe Vardon, who are still the most interesting people on this team so far.