Skip to comments.Dream Team Stunned by Puerto Rico 92-73
Posted on 08/15/2004 12:50:40 PM PDT by wagglebee
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - In an upset as historic as it was inevitable, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and the rest of the U.S. basketball team lost 92-73 to Puerto Rico on Sunday, only the third Olympic defeat ever for the Americans.
It was also the most lopsided loss in the games for the U.S. team, alarming not only for its significance but also for its decisiveness.
Puerto Rico, which had lost to the Americans five times in the past 13 months, took control in the first half, led by 22 at halftime and gamely held off a fourth-quarter comeback for one of the biggest sports achievements in the island territory's history.
The loss was a blow to the Americans' confidence, but it did little to hurt their gold medal chances. They need only to finish in the top four of their six-team group to reach the quarterfinals.
Still, the defeat will go a long way toward giving the competition the bold idea that it's someone else's turn to move to the top of a sport that's been dominated by one country for nearly three-quarters of a century.
As Carlos Arroyo left the court with just over a minute left, he defiantly pulled at the words "Puerto Rico" on his jersey. He led his team with 24 points.
Anyone in America who didn't see this coming hadn't been paying attention to the way international basketball has been changing. The U.S. nearly lost in the semifinals at Sydney on a last-second miss by Lithuania, then dropped three games on its home turf at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis - the first losses ever by a U.S. team of NBA professionals.
This year's team, weakened by the defections and rejections of 12 top players, opened its pre-Olympic tour of Europe with a 17-point loss to Italy and a last-second victory over Germany - a pair of games in which their vulnerability to a tight zone defense was clearly exposed.
Puerto Rico used that defensive strategy, too, and the Americans could do next to nothing against it.
After Lamar Odom made their first 3-pointer, the Americans missed 16 straight. They tried to get the ball inside, but Puerto Rico collapsed several defenders into the paint and took the U.S. team's best player, Duncan, out of the offensive equation.
American teams had been 24-0 since the professional Olympic era began with the 1992 Dream Team, but now there is a blemish on their record to go with their two losses to the Soviet Union in the 1972 gold medal game and the 1988 semifinals.
They handled the loss to Puerto Rico with grace, congratulating their opponents and joining them in a huddle at center court before both teams exited to a standing ovation.
The U.S Olympic team's record now stands at 109-3.
That being said, will somebody please tell me why they have their own Olympic team.
Whoever picked our team this year should be fired. This was awful!
Same as '88, we have no one who can hit a 3 pointer.
The team was picked from those who were willing to compete. Although the wimmin were fired up, some men didn't want to risk their careers for needless and unpaying games.
That's the way it is.
If Port Richard can have their own team why not Taiwan?
I'll bet they went there thinking it was going to be a cakewalk. I support our atheletes but the men's basketball team has been underwhelming this year.
It's not only the 3 pointers, our players are on an international court.
We need to change our courts in the US if we want to seriously compete in international basketball.
It must be Bush's fault!!!
Call the Kerry campaign... (sarcasm off/)
Think about the 1980 hockey team for example. This was a bunch of mostly high school and college kids who beat the Russians and went on to win the Gold. Many of them never had NHL careers but they will always have that gold medal. There's something special about that. Frankly, I'm not as impressed about Wayne Gretsky or Michael Jordan having a gold medal. When a bunch of NBA or NHL stars collect a gold medal, there's just nothing special about it. In fact, it's expected, which makes the winning of it a ho-hum affair.
But seriously.....the best NBA "stars" would rather stay at home, polish their Escalade's and chase women (and whaterver the hell else elite NBA stars do) rather than play for their country who affords them such riches.
In a twisted way, I'm glad PR but us. The NBA and USA Olympic Basketball have to seriously re-think their positions.
I suggest that we go back to fielding a team of college all-stars who might give a flip. Being on the Olympic team is a small diversion to the collection of multimillionaires that we saw lose today. No doubt they were getting ready to play for the gold against China and Yao Ming and thought this one was in the bag. In a way, it's just as well because the anti-American cheering was depressing and the game was boring. At these games, it's fine for every team to exhibit in-your-face-nationalism except the USA. Even that twirp Arroyo was into this...and PR is an AMERICAN territory, at least it is when we feed 50% of them with welfare payments.
There are few Americans in the NBA who know how to play defense, or how to respond to good defense when they are on offense. NBA basketball is hardly a team sport anymore -- it is a collection of individuals trying to outdo each other.
Hopefully Detroit embarrassing LA this year will turn it around a little bit.
You would think that with the NBA 3-point line farther out...team USA would be very strong on the shorter international court, but it's the opposite...???
I for one had hoped that after the collapse of the Iron Curtain that the Olympics would once again be a contest of true amateurs, instead it has become a "once every four years" hiatus from their professional careers. Then again, the only thing that qualifies Allan Iverson as a "professional" is his salary.
When I saw the U.S Team composed of oversized, freaky looking guys with moronic hair and crazy tattoos all over their bodies, I thought, "What a bunch of losers they have selected to represent this great country". If the U.S. team would have won and moved up the competition ladder, they would have cost the U.S. more in image than the Medals would have brought.
While I agree with the sentiment, an accurate translation is Richport.
Think about it. What is more important to a typical NBA player? Winning a gold medal in the Olympics or having a long and lucrative NBA career?
If an NBA player gets a serious injury in the Olympics, than he could lose millions of dollars in NBA salary. So it goes without saying that an NBA player probably isn't going to go "all out" to win in the Olympics and will be careful not to injure himself and jeopardize his NBA career. Ditto for NHL players.
To your average NBA bigshot, winning a gold medal in the Olympics is just a feather in your cap. But for a 20-year-old college player who will likely never see the NBA, a gold medal represents the highpoint of his life. By stocking our Olympic teams with detached professionals who have already reached the greatest of heights, we are denying many young players the opportunity of a lifetime. And I think that's pretty sad.
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