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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Five-Ring Circus

Apologies for not mocking the Olympics nearly as much as I should have these last two weeks. I did get a chance to see parts of the Men's Basketball and Women's Soccer coverage today, though, so let the mocking commence.

After the US defeated Spain as I ate breakfast, Craig Sager was interviewing Stephon Marbury. Sager asked Marbury what Isiah Thomas had told him by way of encouragement, and Marbury replied, "He told me just to embarrass people. I love you Isiah!" Embarrass people, huh? Classy, kind of like an all-nude issue of ESPN the Magazine (old TV commercial reference). I'm sure Isiah is proud to have his words characterized in that way.

The postgame also featured a rare fight between coaches, which was definitely a good time.

Oh yes, there was a game too. I thought Spain screwed up by not resting Pau Gasol at all. He finished with 29, though only 4 in the 4th quarter. I know the game is only 40 minutes, but this was still pretty intense and they needed to steal Gasol a couple of minutes to have him fresher late. Still, I give credit to the US for remembering how to shoot today, which bodes well for their gold-medal chances.

On the announcers front, Jim Lampley has proven himself to be rather smart about basketball, in somewhat of a surprise to me. Usually we're only treated to Lampley's dulcet tones on boxing telecasts (and he really does have a voice for boxing, if that makes any sense), yet today when the TV cut to the studio at halftime, Lampley astutely pointed out how keeping Duncan out of foul trouble so that he could guard Gasol late was key, and that to do this the US needed to maintain a lead. After the Lithuania game, Lampley noted that US defenders needed to fight through screens more than they had since the three-point line is so much closer in international play. Who knew Jim Lampley could make intelligent remarks on basketball?

Doug Collins, meanwhile, has bitched about the officiating constantly from courtside. Sure, there have been some sketchy calls, but my complaint is that Collins and partner Mike Breen are far too NBA-centric in their criticism. The NBA officiating is horribly flawed too, and any differences in international basketball from the NBA are not per se bad, even if they do confuse some of our players. I get the sense that ever since his involvement in the 1972 Munich fiasco, Collins has had a personal vendetta against all officiating in international basketball competitions. At least he's better than Bill Walton making references to how his son and Richard Jefferson were roommates in college, which we were subjected to during the pre-Olympic exhibitions.

Later on this afternoon I was at the gym where I caught the tail end of the women's soccer gold-medal victory over Brazil. During the post-match celebration, Mia Hamm said hello to Nomar, which I'm sure lots of people thought was cute. Poor Nomie had to go through the ordeal of being traded while his wife was on the other side of the world. The Olympics and the human drama are so deranging that you even get the likes of Jay Mariotti writing sappy columns.

NBC's on-field reporter also talked with Brandi Chastain, she of the memorable 1999 World Cup celebration. The reporter asked the standard-issue question for the victorious athlete: what does this moment mean for you and your family? (Very creative interview, I'm telling you.) And what did Chastain say? Both her parents died recently! Oh well, the gold medal at least ought to help ease the pain of that, huh?

And then there's the Women's Beach Volleyball from the other night, for which the jokes write themselves. Pops posted the excellent photo of the pair that won the gold, and Tragic Christian in comments there linked John Cole's related post (ignore this if you're opposed to objectifying female athletes as sex objects, yadda yadda). From Cole's comment thread:

I have to point out that two of the American players are named "Misty May" and "Holly McPeaks". You can't make stuff like that up.

It's like they held auditions for US women's volleyball at the same place as the auditions for a porno. And when did Cole--whose site I read only once in a while--go from posting frothing denunciations of Democrats to pictures of attractive women? Of course, I was mocking the women's beach volleyball way back on the first day of competition--beat that!