Saturday, August 9, 2008

Why I love Olympics basketball

Mohammadsamad Nikkhah of Iran.
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This is very similar to one of my NBA Vegas Summer League pieces where I admit that I love watching Summer League.

Devout dreamleaguer Andre Liu is currently in Beijing with tickets to the preliminary round of men's basketball (lucky S.O.B.!). Incidentally, I found a nice blogger giving cool first-hand accounts in Beijing. Sam Williams of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce thinks he saw the Italian basketball team at the local market, but Italy is not represented in basketball this Olympics, men's or women's, so it had to be some other tall group of Europeans.

I'm doing the next best thing: catching the games live on Of course, you'll probably need a computer with an up-to-date chip -- my old Pentium III yields choppy video, but good thing my wife has a Vista machine -- and for the Russia vs Iran game, the bigger-screen version wouldn't load, getting stuck on "Buffer=60%".

But here's a hint in case that happens to you. Click on the upper left-hand icon to get to the smaller 4-screen splits, and the tiny version of the video seems to stream okay. You'll have to squint, though.

The video stream is quite refreshing because there are no announcers and you can hear the squeaks, clanks, swishes, and players/coaches barking. In the Germany vs Angola game, you can hear the German coaching staff yelling stuff in English. In the Russia/Iran game, you can hear Russian point guard J.R. Holden tell teammate Andrei Kirilenko, "Go through, Andrei!"
ASIDE: Speaking of J.R. Holden, why hasn't the Chinese or Iranian team picked up a point guard ringer like that? Kinda reminds me of some of our Asian American leagues or tournaments: "Oh yeah, he's a quarter-Filipino." You know what I'm talkin' 'bout, people!

ASIDE II: Holden is playing the most minutes for Russia! And his name on the roster has been all "Russian-ized": "Dzhon-Robert ZHolden" (I guess there is no "J" in Russian and maybe you can't start a word with "H"?).

ASIDE III: In the Olympic uni number 1 thru 15 format, Dirk Nowitzki is wearing #14, the reverse of his Mavs' #41. Kirilenko is #7, the 2nd half of his Jazz #47.
Sure, without announcers you won't get to know the players very well unless you open up another browser window and navigate to the game rosters (you can see the uni numbers pretty clearly), but you're watching high-level, un-adulterated basketball in its purest form.

No distracting cheerleaders, no stupid pet tricks, no trampolines aiding normal-sized people dressed in tights to make slam dunks. Hardly any commercials! You stay at the scene during almost every break and soak in the music and, okay, every once in a long while, some dancers will come out, but they're too small on the screen to see. It's not like there's a camera-man ogling them.

And the crowd cheers every basket, no matter what team. Nobody boos -- well, to be truthful, there's some guy yelling, "Brick!" when a German shoots a free throw. Overall, the fans are there to root for good play, nice hustle, and guys giving their heart and soul for no pay. Just doing their best to represent their country.

Ah, refreshing! I highly recommend you check out a game or two.

Even the Chinese music (cool stuff, very catchy, very hip-hoppy at times) during timeouts make you feel like you're there.

Still, "Lucky Liu" has got it better right now. I'll try to direct him to this blogpost so he can give us some quick insights in the Comments below.


At Sun Aug 10, 09:29:00 AM PDT , Blogger Alice said...

Hello from Beijing! This is your NYC Dream League roving reporter, Lucky Liu. Team USA has just brushed off some spirited Chinese resistance in their preliminary round matchup, purported to be the most-watched single sporting event in history. The Chinese came out pumped up in front of their rabid home crowd, went nuts when Yao Ming swished a three to open up the scoring, and actually had a brief moment of irrational exuberance when their three-point shooting kept them in the game for a good quarter+. The crowd was absolutely deafening with coordinated shouts of "Jong Guo duey, jia you!"

Inevitably, the superior athleticism and skills of Team USA turned the tide. The full court press and great on-the-ball defense by Kobe and D-Wade led to numerous easy buckets (ok, it was a dunkfest). When Lebron literally caught a Chinese shot with both hands, pinning it to the backboard and then laced a full court TD pass to a streaking D-Wade, the crowd talk around me in Mandarin turned to "what a great victory it would be for China if we could lose by only 20 points."

But it was not to be. Predictably, Coaches K and Boeheim had the guys shut down the looks from the outside, forcing the Chinese to drive or get the ball into Yao Ming (easier said than done), and you can imagine how well that worked.

Despite shooting a ton of bricks from the outside, Team USA dominated in transition, and a Dwight Howard or Chris Bosh dunk is a pretty high percentage play. Despite at times making the Chinese look a bit foolish (especially when they tried to dribble), the Americans comported themselves with a high level of sportsmanship and represented the USA with class.

Some other observations: Chinese fans absolutely love TEAM USA. In the previous night, during Ladies Night's premiere matchup of USA versus Czech Republic, the highlight of the night was the Chinese crowd noticing that the men's team was in street clothes supporting the American women. A la the NY Yankee right field bleacher creatures, the crowd conducted a player-by-player role call, and the players responded in turn by standing up and waving, much to the delight of the Chinese. And finally, keep your eyes on Sun Yue, a 6'8" Chinese point guard who the Lakers just signed. The guy has got game, lots of it.

At Sun Aug 10, 03:46:00 PM PDT , Blogger Brian said...

oh lucky liu - what a pounding that was! so very jealous you're there though!


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