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 nbcolympics.com. 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.