Red, White, and Boo: USA Basketball’s Worst Olympians

By: Jeezy Sanchez & Haggleman Mondays

The Americans spent far too much time on their knees in ’04 [wink]

2012 marks the 20 year anniversary of the greatest collection of stars ever assembled. The 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball team, or the “Dream Team” as they were referred, was unlike anything we had ever seen. From Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, this team exemplified “star power.” They beat teams to a pulp every night. Read this terrific piece from GQ for the oral history of the 1992 Dream Team and watch NBA TV’s documentary on the team tonight.

Since ’92, the NBA has produced Olympic squads that would rival the Dream Team, as well as ones that would rival Bel-Air Prep’s team before the Fresh Prince arrived. Although all of those teams have had the NBA’s best, they have also had the NBA’s very average. Everyone remembers Vince Carter dunking over a building in 2000, but they quickly forget how bad that roster was.  We have taken the liberty of compiling the head-scratching, or flat out terrible members that have represented our country since NBA players began participating in 1992. Now, we won’t include World Championship rosters because frankly that’s too much work and have you SEEN those rosters? Do Brad Miller and Raef LaFrentz ring any bells? You’ve seen the Dream Team, the Nightmare Team, and the Redeem Team. Here is the Scream Team.

THE SCREAM TEAM

G Tim Hardaway

This was pre-homophobic Hardaway. Both were equally terrible. Every team lacks a punch at a certain position. For 2012, it will be at center. In 2000, it was tolerant point guards.

F Shareef Abdur-Rahim

WHY ARE YOU HERE? First of all, Shareef just screams “AMERICA” doesn’t he? Is this really the best we could come up with?  How many guys declined before we settled on this dude? Did Tom Gugliotta say no? Oh, and Shareef’s wife is named Delicia…I’m not touching that one.

F Christian Laettner

If you search “Christian Laettner Dream Team” on Google, the third result is a Yahoo! Answers question from a user named ‘AL IS ON VACATION AND HAS NO PIC’, in which he demands, “Why was Christian Laettner on the first Dream Team?” I just want to make a point of how super that is. Aside from his great question, Al’s username answers why he has no avatar and it does so in all caps. If you’re out there Al, we would make good friends.

As for Laettner, we can all agree that Michael Jordan probably never acknowledged him the entire summer, right?

F Vin Baker

In retrospect, the 2000 team is probably more cringe-worthy than ’04, even if they did take home the gold. Were it not for Vince Carter in his prime, that team would have been a bigger joke than Vin Baker. After all, Vin’s career ended due to alcoholism and he’s now an assistant high school coach. Isn’t that the most Vin Baker thing ever?

G Tayshaun Prince

TAY-SHAUN PRINCE-ESS CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP [repeat forever]

Somehow, Prince led the 2008 squad in 3-point shooting, which is as stunning as it is embarrassing. A stern head-shake directed at the rest of you, 2008 team. All of the players on that team put their gold medals around Coach K’s neck since coaches don’t receive medals. Well, all of them but Prince. He was still holding a grudge for that Duke-Kentucky rivalry that didn’t even exist anymore. That is so Tayshaun.

F Richard Jefferson

It’s a shame that ‘Back to the Future’ wasn’t based on a true story, because if it was, I would find Doc Brown and demand we take his DeLorean back to 2004 and never let Richard Jefferson get on the plane to Greece.  I’d also steal that sports almanac, make millions of dollars, and not resort to watching cat videos all day. But I’m straying from R-Jeff bashing. He started all 8 games for the US in 2004 and averaged about 6 PPG while shooting a BLISTERING 32%. Now that I think about it, there’s a good chance the real life Doc Brown would be dead by now. Just like Richard Jefferson’s career.

G Steve Smith

I don’t even know who this is. American parents need to stop naming their athletes Steve Smith. It’s getting too damn confusing.

G Jason Kidd

I’m talking the 2008 version. The 2000 Jason Kidd averaged 6 PPG, or SIX times what he averaged in 2008! Kidd started every game on a team with Chris Paul and Deron Williams, which showed how much he meant to the coaches. Kidd then showed how much winning the gold meant to him by giving his medal to the casino owners who boarded the team when they were training. The worst.

F Carlos Boozer

Although he’s an American citizen, Carlos Boozer was born in Germany. We could have witnessed a Boozer-Chris Kaman frontcourt for the German Olympic team. The Berlin Wall jokes would have been endless. What a wasted opportunity.

F Emeka Okafor

Much of the NBA’s established talent decided to pass on the 2004 Olympics due to safety concerns in the first Summer Olympics post-9/11. Our country was forced to rest our hopes on young guns like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Emeka Okafor. Wait, what? Okafor was straight outta college where he had been getting embarrassed by Craig Forth. He only registered two games in the Olympics before getting hurt and fading into oblivion. We were doomed from the start. Thanks a lot Bin Laden.

F Shawn Marion

Marion surprised everyone in 2004 when he accepted the offer to play for America instead of suiting up for Team Alien, with whom he holds citizenship. We all wish he had chosen differently.

F Antonio McDyess

The 2000 team was literally a Who’s Who of the NBA, because nobody knew who these guys were. McDyess played for as many teams in the NBA as he did games in the Olympics. I can only assume his addition was due in large part to a McDonald’s Olympic sponsorship agreement: McDyess, ‘I’m Lacking It.’

One thing’s for sure, we’ll root for whoever trots out there in a “USA” jersey. But not Christian Laettner. Ever.

_____________________________________________________________________

Sidenote: I can’t write about the USA Olympic Basketball team without mentioning this commercial from Nike:

So many questions…

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Posted in NBA

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