America Blows

By MIKE MILIARD  |  June 29, 2007

Alongside Tim Duncan (born in Saint Croix) and Ginobili’s Argentinean countryman Fabricio Oberto, the team also features Beno Udrih (Slovenia) and Francisco Elson (Holland). And the aforementioned Frenchman and series MVP Tony Parker.

Compare this roster with the all-American Boston Celtics. (Wally Szczerbiak was born in Spain, but to American parents, and Sebastian Telfair only sounds French.) Put plainly: they suck. Not only that, but after faring so poorly in this year’s draft lottery, executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge is “infatuated” with seven-foot tall Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian as the team’s last best hope.

Writing on the Cackamasaurus blog last month, proprietor “Bill Brasky” issued an impassioned cri de cœur:

European athletes are ruining the NBA. Soccer, the sport of Europe, considers the worst elements of human nature to be “just part of the game” . . . (1) flopping, (2) dirty play aimed at injuring the opposition, and (3) constantly whining at the refs. Now, I know that these things existed before the European invasion of the NBA, but now this type of play seems [suddenly] to be accepted. All one has to do is look at the San Antonio Spurs. These guys should be in the goddamn World Cup with cleats on, not on a basketball court. . . . I think this “Europitis” is contagious. We need to quarantine these motherfuckers before their disease kills the rest of the NBA.

Au contraire, Mr. Brasky, that’s not the problem. It’s that the American talent can’t catch up to the Steve Nashes, Yao Mings, Dirk Nowitzkis, and Pau Gasols of this global village. The teams that stink? The Knicks, the Timberwolves, the Pacers, the Clippers? All finished at or near the bottom of their divisions, and, with one or two exceptions, have rosters that are all-American.

Then there are the individual sports. We mentioned Argentinean Cabrera winning the US Open this past month, marking the fourth consecutive year that an American failed to win the Open, the longest drought since 1911.

In tennis, things are even worse. Back in the ’90s — which seem further in the rear-view mirror every day — things were sublime. Bill Clinton was president. Prosperity reigned. And Agassi, Sampras, Courier, and Chang laid waste to courts and took names, from Roland Garros to Melbourne Park. Nowadays? With Wimbledon underway this week, American men could conceivably be looking at their 15th straight tournament without a Grand Slam win. Andy Roddick, a nation turns its NASCAR-exhaust-stung eyes to you.

And speaking of NASCAR, there is one sport that Americans dominate, right? Let the moms have their soccer. Dads are all about NASCAR. (As long as we’re creating phony demographics.) But here’s a news flash, shirtless dude: NASCAR doesn’t compare with Europe’s Formula One racing. NASCAR races are short-track affairs, in which a driver is basically riding around in circles. Formula One races feature zigzagging turns that put a driver’s body up to 5 or 6 gs worth of stress.

It’s not just that it’s faster and more technical and more exciting. I’ll let the guys over at the Unsleepable blog (spittingllamas.com) explain. “This weekend, while watching the Formula 1 race at Magny-Cours in France, it became very clear how F1 and NASCAR are different. No, it had nothing to do with the cars or the track, but rather with something the announcer said. While the camera focused on Fernando Alonso going through a chicane [tight curve], he yelled, ‘Look at that car dance on the knife-edge of adhesion!’ [For a NASCAR audience], the announcer would have translated [that] as, ‘Wooohoooo, look at that boy go!’ ”

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