Pet Cobra

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Woohoo! Friday! Productive day thus far: got some work done, went to the gym, ate my South Beach Diet lunch (curry-flavored tuna lettuce wraps and a small bag of pistachios), and I'm now ready to pass out. Every fiber of my being is screaming at my to walk over to the break room, where boxes of donuts eagerly wait for me to ransack and devour them. (Note: ordinarily, I rarely eat donuts. But when you haven't had an ounce of sugar for 5 days, all of a sudden you turn into Chris Rock in "New Jack City" over them.)

By now, of course, everyone will know that the USA Hoops Team will not be playing for the gold. ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock, who suffers from the notion that he's the next Ralph Wiley ("Who?", you ask? Google him.), equates failure to support the current "Dream Team" with racism, and argues that we need to back their play regardless. Read on:

Well, I couldn't let that go, so I emailed him this response:

"Ignorant crackers aside, there are a great many Americans who have been let down by this team. And it has everything to do with the American game, and how Americans should carry themselves in the Olympics, regardless of race or financial status.

There are a great many white and black Americans who long for the game to return to the halcyon days of Magic, Jordan (later career Jordan, anyway), Bird, Stockton-Malone. It's far too easy to single out black players - there are also way too many Ostertags and Bradleys, Scot Pollards and Jason Williams' on the court, white guys with no skills who are better suited to play on a NFL Europe team. Fundamentally, the rest of the world plays the team game much better than their NBA counterparts, and it's a joy to watch. When we get smacked around by Peurto Rico, it's an embarassment. When Larry Brown calls a time out with seconds left in a game we've put in the fridge, it's an embarassment. But when our guys continue to act and play like high schoolers, and refuse to step it up they way they should (Marbury scored 31 points! Hooray! He STILL won't play the point like it must be played), is it "unsophisticated" to call them on it?

You compare Phelps, et. al. to the hoops team as money chasers. To an extent, that's true, but there are two major differences. The swimmers, gymnasts, track stars - they maybe get a few days every 4 years to actually position themselves to make some money off of their sport and life's work, and to compare what Carly Patterson will get from being on the Wheaties box to what AI brings in from endorsements alone is ridiculous. And unlike the Dream Teamers, the rest of the U.S. Olympic contingent knows what an honor it is to be good enough to go up against the world's best, and they are humbled by the fact that they've been tapped to represent their country. The Olympics, despite the many flaws, still serve to bring a little inspiration, pride, and hope to Americans, especially in times like these. We've seen every single Dream Team roll into their respective games like it's a summertime exhibition tourney against the Washington Generals. You're right on when you say that they don't care about the Olympics. But there are a great many Americans, black and white, athletes and fans, who do. And if USA Basketball can't respect that, why should they expect blind adulation in return?"

Of course, the email was kicked back to me; I'm sure his mailbox ( was packed to the rafters with responses.

So it appears that al-Sadr's militia are giving up their weapons and leaving Najaf. Wonder how long it will be before the Bush campaign starts spinning this? And does anyone recall the wisdom of letting other insurgents (i.e., the Saddam Fedayeen) just walk away from the fight? Reports from the Marines fighting in Najaf indicate that the al-Sadr forces fought with sophistication, coordinating attacks, fields of fire, etc. It's clear that many of them had previous experience fighting U.S. forces during the initial invasion. By granting them amnesty, we've almost certainly guaranteed that the fighting will flare up again.

International rugby matches (known as "tests") are on hold for a few weeks, but there's still regional action; South African clubs (my club of choice - Natal Sharks) and New Zealand clubs are vying for their respective national championships. In England, the Zurich Premiership league kicks off in a few days; I'll be rooting for Bath (as far as I know, the only British team to have been captained by an American, Eage great Dan Lyle). Since Lucas and I are the early risers, we'll watch a match (Otago v. Canterbury) over coffee and formula tomorrow morning. Father-son bonding at its finest.


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