Wake me when it's over.
Since invitations to the Olympic Games began arriving in the million-dollar mailboxes of NBA veterans in 1992, watching the U.S. men's basketball team has been a wet dream for hoop-heads.
This year's version, however, is the equivalent of a cold shower.
A loss to Puerto Rico, a six-point win over Greece and countless long range bricks by the Americans has left fans, coaches and players alike in the same state of puzzlement.
How did this happen?
Look no further than the selection process. After seemingly every big name in the NBA spurned the squad for various reasons - among them a high-profile court case, a wedding and a nap for Shaq - the selection committee scrambled to fill the roster with players whose names could help Reebok sell more Team USA jerseys.
Suddenly, names like James and Anthony were taking the place of basketball royalty Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd.
A fair trade? Hardly.
To make matters worse, Lebron and Carmelo joined a roster that more closely resembled a safe home for 6-7 athletes without a definable position or a reliable jump shot.
Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson and Lamar Odom - all cut from the same selfish scoring mold - helped tie coach Larry Brown's creative hands on the sidelines...not to mention the "playmakers" running the point.
Was this the best the selection committee could do with all the players declining to play?
In one word: No.
The selection committee chose not to pursue actual centers in preparation for China's Yao Ming or even Puerto Rico's Daniel Santiago. Tim Duncan starts in the post for Brown, something that he doesn't even do for his own NBA team.
Sure, Shaquille O'Neal said, "No, thanks" to the USA, but he isn't the only American center in the league.
Brad Miller is the ultimate all-star role player and would have made an excellent addition to the team.
The selection committee felt that Allen Iverson - a former scoring champion - and Stephon Marbury were the only other options for Team USA after Jason Kidd passed on Athens.
Last time I checked, point guards are supposed to get the entire team involved and run an offense that operates through five bodies instead of one.
These guys are as interested in the art of the assist as Paris Hilton is in making it to church on Sunday morning.
J-Kidd is a great passer, but for my money, Andre Miller is now the best pure passer in the NBA - another overlooked option for building a team.
Which, in reality, is exactly what the selection committee failed to do. A team filled with talent at every position was not created, and now the NBA is trotting out a team that has the appearance of approximately three seconds' worth of thought behind it.
The result of the selection committee's poor planning is predictable, even if hard to believe.
At least it will be nice to sample a different national anthem at the men's basketball gold medal ceremony for once.
- Austin Ward is a junior in journalism and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USA Basketball no longer stimulating
Published: Thu Aug 19, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:17 p.m.