Goodbye, FIBA Las Vegas
Okay, so there is such a thing as too much Vegas. After the All-Star Game and the past two weeks here for the FIBA Americas Championship, I've had my fill and don't need to come back here anytime soon (I'm still upset this thing wasn't in Puerto Rico). I was able to hold up until this weekend, when the dry heat finally declared war on my allergies and the lack of sleep had me sniffling and sneezing until no end. I'm blowing my nose as I write this.
It didn't help that I went to see Keyshia Cole in concert at the House of Blues late Saturday night. The show didn't start until 1:30 a.m. I showed up at 12:45, and had to wait an hour just to get through the line. So yes, I missed the start of the show. I could only hang until 3 before I had to "let it go." Good show, but the people in attendance were more entertaining. Did you know brothers are still wear Jheri Curls? I saw another dude who looked like a homeless man's T-Pain. Many laughs.
Anyway, I'm sick, tired and can't wait to get back to D.C.
But before I say goodbye to FIBA Las Vegas, I wanted to leave you my final observations from here.
Melo and Bron-Bron got robbed
The funniest sight of the medal ceremony Sunday was when Argentina's Luis Scola received the MVP award. Scola gave an embarrassed, sheepish grin as if he had just been caught making out with someone else's girlfriend. He knew that the award should've gone to someone on the most dominant American team since the Dream Team in 1992.
I mean, seriously, the U.S. won by an averaged of 39.5 points per game.
If I was allowed to vote, I would've picked Anthony, but I wouldn't have had a problem with James. They were consistently the two best players for the U.S. almost every night. There were a few Kobe Bryant moments, Jason Kidd was a great floor general but Anthony was an unstoppable scoring machine, averaging 21.2 points. James was second in scoring (18.1 points) and led the team in assists.
They have obviously learned from past failures in international hoops, and their experience was evident with the relative ease with which they scored. Yet, when the ballots were turned in, Luis Scola received eight votes, Carmelo got six, Kobe got three, LeBron got two and Leandro Barbosa got one.
When the word got out about the final results, the immediate conclusion among most reporters was that most of the Latin American writers chose Scola, while the Americans split the votes. Then, I found out that two Americans actually voted for Scola.
How un-American is that? I jokingly approached one of the American writers about voting for Scola and he said, "I sure did. Argentina wouldn't be here without him." I won't out the writer unless he outs himself. I have to respect him for sticking to his guns. Doesn't make him right, though.
Scola is nice, but you mean to tell me that Carmelo wouldn't have dominated this tournament if he played for Puerto Rico; that LeBron wouldn't have been amazing playing for Canada or the Virgin Islands? I know those guys couldn't play for those countries, I'm just trying to put what they did into perspective. They shouldn't be discredited for being surrounded by superior talent. The U.S. would not have been that dominant without them.
Those guys were phenomenal. At least they got gold medals, I guess.
The United States Was Bananas
When you break down how the United States obliterated the field in this tournament, the numbers are completely mind-boggling. You couldn't make up this stuff on a video game.
Check out these:
* The Americans shot 58.7 percent overall, and Chauncey Billups, Mike Miller and Tayshaun Prince were the only players who didn't hit at least half of their shots.
* Dwight Howard shot 81.4 percent.
* LeBron James shot 11 for 15 on Sunday, while scoring 31 points - and his shooting percentage actually dropped to 76 percent.
* The U.S. averaged 116.7 points per game. No other team averaged more than 91 points.
* Carmelo Anthony scored 191 points in 175 minutes played.
* The U.S. hit 147 three-pointers in 10 games, connecting on 47 percent of their shots.
* Americans shot 67.9 percent inside the three-point line.
I could give you more but I don't want to completely bore you with numbers.
Deron Williams really needs to get a good look for next summer
Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the senior team, spoke after the game about how tough his decision will be next summer trying to select 12 players for Beijing.
Well, from what I can see, barring injury, here are the locks: Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire.
I think Michael Redd certainly shot himself into a spot, too, after shooting 45.3 percent from beyond the three-point line (You know what's funny. For all the talk of how the U.S. needs shooters, James (62.2 percent), Anthony (57.8) and Bryant (45.9) were the best from beyond the arc).
So that leaves three spots up for grabs for Elton Brand, Tayshaun Prince, Tyson Chandler, Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carlos Boozer, Shane Battier, Joe Johnson, Kirk Hinrich and Shawn Marion.
You may have noticed that I left Gilbert Arenas off the list. I regret that I never spoke with Colangelo about Arenas, but I'm not sure where or how he'd fit with the way this team is currently constructed. I don't even think I need to include his past comments about Coach K.
Of the players who were in Vegas the past two weeks, Mike Miller is certainly a goner after a shaky shooting display, with his spot going to Wade. Chandler was the 12th man, but he was an active shot blocker and always made his presence felt when he was on the floor. Prince didn't play himself off the team, providing solid defense and filling his role perfectly.
I really like Billups, but he didn't have the best showing here. He shot a team-worst 37.8 percent from the floor, and with the exception of the win against Uruguay, the U.S. didn't always look the most effective when he was directing traffic.
Williams, however, quietly had a very impressive showing. Of course, most of his playing time came when the game was already decided and he wasn't under any real pressure. But Williams was a solid floor leader and ensured minimal drop-off when he was in the game. Think about this: Williams tied Jason Kidd for second on the team in assists at 46. James led the team with 47. So what? You say.
Well, Williams played 15 minutes fewer than Kidd and 79 minutes fewer than James. Not bad.
If you want a good steak in Vegas. . .
Go to the SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Hotel. It's expensive but worth it. I never had a steak melt in my mouth like butter before. I also took time to really chew so that I could enjoy every bite. I was offended by the presence of potatoes and vegetables on the table. They would do me no good.
My friends asked our waitress what made the steaks so good and she explained how they use wet-aged prime beef, as in, they let the meat soak in its juices for almost a month, then they select it at the perfect time to grill. I didn't really understand what she was talking about, but I sure loved that steak.
I'm out of here, y'all. Everything else that happened here, well, you know the rest. . .
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