What? That’s a stupid headline. How could the U.S.A. possibly not qualify for a sport in which we have the premier talent in the world and won a gold medal in 2008? Ludicrous.
Or is it?
1) The 1st way for the U.S. to qualify for the 2012 Olympics is by winning the FIBA World Championship in August/September, aka the World Cup of Basketball. Seems doable, right? Well, they haven’t won this event since 1994, though they have earned 2 bronze medals since then. But the Redeem Team is live and well right? It’s a new era of commitment, yes? Well according to reports, that commitment does not extend all the way to Turkey, host country of this year’s tournament. Be it distance or safety concerns, the top USA players look to be choosing to sit this one out.
Ok, so we don’t win in Turkey. What’s next?
2) Well the next event is the FIBA America’s Tournament in 2011. This is a decidedly easier tourney, as the only real relevant power is Argentina, who the U.S. beat by 37 in the 2007 Finals. In fact, take away LeBron’s game high 31 points, and the U.S. still wins. HOWEVER, here comes the NBA lockout in 2011. USA Basketball is run by the NBA now. Lockout the players from club teams, they become ineligible for USA basketball as well. So, now the U.S. goes to the tourney with the best college team they can field.
Uh, oh. What’s next?
3) Well, there’s a last resort, as 3 teams can qualify in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifier, designed as a last chance for the best of the worst to sneak in. This is how Greece, Croatia and Germany got into the 2008 Games. It runs July 2 – July 8, 2012, just before the Olympics. So, we would have to hope that the 2011-2012 lockout gets done before June 2012. Or that common sense prevails and USA Basketball lets the guys play either way.
Now, there’s another doomsday scenario. Say the USA does win next month and qualifies, but the lockout extends from fall 2011 all the way through summer 2012. Who plays then?