London 2012: Basketball
Tell me about basketball:
With such an intense focus on the NBA, the Summer Olympics offers a refreshing change for the basketball world. Since basketball has become an Olympic sport in 1936 for men and in 1976 for women, the United States has been the most successful nation with 24 medals to show for it.
How to qualify:
Teams can qualify in four different ways. One team for each gender qualifies as the reigning World Champion. Seven men’s teams and five women’s teams qualify through their respective regional championships. Three men’s teams and five women’s teams qualify through a world qualifying tournament. Finally, the two teams of the host nation qualify automatically. All together, twelve men’s team and twelve women’s teams compete in the Summer Olympics.
International players to watch: With the NBA bringing together players from all over the world, it can be easy to forget that they will not all be representing Team USA. Notable names include Tony Parker (yes, ex-husband of actress Eva Longoria) who plays for the San Antonio Spurs but will be wearing France on his jersey. Chicago Bulls All-Star Luol Deng will be playing for Great Britain. The Gasol brothers will have a chance to play together for Spain.
Americans to watch: With injuries to big names like Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, can the United States still be a contender for the gold? With Duke legend and “Dream Team” assistant coach Mike Krzyzewski serving as its head coach, Team USA will still be very tough to beat. Also, an impressive roster does not hurt either. The roster includes names like Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul. Unfortunately for Boston fans, no current Celtics made the Olympic roster.
Talk like an Olympian – facts to know:
Mention the controversial decision made by the International Basketball Federation in 1989 to allow the participation of NBA players in the Olympic Games.
As arguably the most prolific team to ever bless the world, also referred to as the “Dream Team”, Team USA won the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics with an average winning margin of 44 points.