The Benefits of Three-Point Etiquette

Good behavior on the basketball court is paying off for the U.S. National team. After some previous disappointments, the NBA's newest stars are playing like a team and succeeding in international competition. Commentator John McCann is a columnist for The Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C.

ED GORDON, host:

The U.S. Olympic basketball team made headlines in 2004 for selfish play and bad behavior that undermined their game and their popularity among basketball fans. But this year, Team USA has surprised commentator John McCann. Maybe the mark of a world-class team really is good sportsmanship.

Mr. JOHN MCCANN (Columnist, The Herald-Sun): Wait a minute, now. It ain't even supposed to work like this. Any bootleg chemist will tell you that if you mix the NBA's cream of the crop and their millionaire mentalities and stir all that together with their big egos, then what you end with is a mess. I mean that's how the brothers on the 2004 USA basketball team ended up with a bronze medal, right?

And we invented the game. Well, a white dude actually invented the game, but the brothers made it more fun to watch with dunks and dipsy-do moves and all that. But something happened since 2004, because that same chemistry experiment is having a different result. Now maybe that's because USA basketball has a new chemist in basketball coach Mike Kryz - Coach K, all right.

See, the 2004 chemistry experiment turned out like the one you answered in to the elementary school science fair when you mixed vinegar and baking soda and stuff just bubbled up in to a great big glob of nothing much. That's what all the egos and personal agendas amounted to a couple of years ago with USA basketball.

This time around is different. The young hip-hoppers are on the same page, and it looks like alchemy isn't going to yield bronze this time but gold. I guess watching what amounts to Goliath getting his butt kicked on the world stage will make you reevaluate some things and change your focus. And maybe, just maybe, this is signaling to those of those in Generation X (unintelligible) about the need to reevaluate some things and change our focus about Generation Y and beyond.

You know, the super baggy pants wearing, show us your drawers us your drawers generation that doesn't have to comb their hair anymore because sticking on a do-rag covers their naps. See, those are the kids that many people want to write-off and give up on. We call them selfish and disrespectful and criticize their rap music. And yet the parents of my peers have problems with what we were listening to. I mean, is there really much difference between Nelly talking about his Nike Air Force Ones and me back in the day bobbing my head to Run DMC, kicking my Adidas. Or for you older heads out there shaking your noggins at the sexually suggestive lyrics of today, do I need to tell you what Grace Jones was really talking about back in the day when she was singing about pulling up the bumpers and long black limousines?

Look, all I'm saying is maybe we're being too hard on the young kids coming up. Now, don't misunderstand me. Don't think I'm advocating that the young ones go out there and experiment with sex and them funny looking cigarettes and all that. If you ask me, they all just need to get saved and live for the Lord.

But this USA basketball team is showing me that young people know how to get their act together, know how to get the job done when it's time show improve. The hope is the younger cast looking up to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and them realize that they can cool and productive all at the same time.

GORDON: John McCann is a columnist for The Herald-Sun in Durham, North Carolina.

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