Spain has the second best national basketball team in the world. Anchored in the paint by brothers Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, plus with a host of good guards such as Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio, they have won two Olympic silver medals in a row, able to beat out every nation on earth save the USA.
This summer Spain hosts the World Championships and the Lakers’ Gasol (Pau) will be in uniform. If there was a tournament where Spain might beat the USA, this one on their home soil is the best of candidates.
But Gasol refused to look much farther in his crystal ball — he doesn’t know yet if he will suit up for Spain in 2016 in the Rio Olympics, Gasol told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Gasol told this newspaper he remains undecided whether he will play in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero, aware that he will then be 36 and saddled with plenty of basketball mileage.
“That’s the main thing. Can I stay healthy and can I play and continue to excel?” Gasol said. “Everything takes its toll. You continue to add miles and then there’s a point where that’s as far as you get.”
Kobe Bryant, who is not going to be part of Team USA in 2016, said he plans to go to Brazil just to watch Gasol win another silver.
It’s too far off to say if anyone in particular will play in 2016 — would LeBron James want to go for a basketball record fourth gold, or take a summer off? Could Derrick Rose be healthy and be back to being a force of nature? Of course the threat of injury looms over everyone.
But 2016 would pretty much be the last run for this golden era of Spanish basketball, by the 2018 World Championships or 2020 Tokyo Olympics the group will be too old. Which is why I think you see Gasol play in Rio if he can (the way the golden era of Argentinian ballers made one last run in London, finishing fourth).
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.