NEW YORK, Aug. 3, 2012 — Being that I was 38,000 feet in the air, enjoying the comforts of the business class cabin of a KLM 747 when the United States was rewriting the record book against Nigeria, I set out to watch the streaming replay before dawn this morning on NBCSports online.
Black screen. Nothing would play. Nothing.
Tried it four times, logging out, logging in, changing my Internet provider password, etc. Can I have the last 45 minutes of my life back? Is this what y’all were tweeting about in the #nbchate hashtag campaign I was reading about while in Europe? Is this just the tip of the iceberg? (It’s been 20 years since I was subjected to watching the Summer Olympics on NBC).
I’ve just returned from France, where there are almost no commercials cluttering the coverage — but almost nothing to watch that interested me. You like judo, team handball and equestrian? Then get thee to France. Stuff is on nearly 24/7.
One break Parisian viewers received was a live feed of the France-Argentina game a couple nights ago, followed by the US-Tunisia game on one of the cable channels. I watched it at a tavern called the Great Canadian in the center if Paris, where the following two photos show what I saw in front of me, and what I saw if I looked behind me.
So you’d think “The Great Canadian” is a redundant name, right?
I did, until I saw what they were charging for a pint of beer — 7.50 Euro, which equals $9.18. There are nightclubs in Vegas, tourist traps in Manhattan and ballparks all across America that won’t cross the $9 beer threshold, but I found the place that is bucking the trend.
One of my tweeps, an attorney and a huge Knicks fan, had read diary Edition III, which dealt with the Boris Diaw burger, free Frosted Flakes and other assorted anecdotes, and he saw that I had announced my next destination. So he showed up, he brought his newlywed wife (they were honeymooning), and we watched France-Argentina together. If you have a sec, send a shoutout to @Cocolevio. He married quite well.
The US-Tunisia game started at 11:15 p.m. local time in Paris, so the second half was out of the question because the last train had to be caught. So I imagine riding the Paris Metro is off the bucket list — not that is was ever on it.
At some point I will watch a tape of the US-Nigeria game, as I have arrived home with all sorts of new knowledge about how to circumvent Internet rules. You spend four days with American ex-pats, and there are all sorts of tricks they can show you.
As for the Nigeria beatdown, the best line from that game (that did not involve an American player’s stats) came from Tom Withers of the Associated Press:
“The last group in England with this many records was The Beatles.”
Withers is an old friend from my days at AP, so I hope he does not mind a nitpick-slash-ballbust: The words “LeBron” and “James” are conspicuously absent from his game story. Is this because you are an Ohioan, Tom? The Heat media (a.k.a #heatmedia) are going to be deeply offended. Plus there is a wealth of material to draw upon – getting stood up by swimmer Lauren Perdue, having more assists (17) in the tournament than points (14), clubbing at Funky Buddha.
Anyway, back to US-Nigeria game.
_ Carmelo Anthony’s 37 points shattered the record of 31 set by Stephon Marbury in 2004 at the semifinals in Athens against Greece. U.S. coach Larry Brown and Spain coach Mario Pesquera had a public pissing match both on the court at the final buzer and during the post-game press conference over Brown’s decision to call a timeout in the final minute when the game was out of reach – an egregious breach of FIBA etiquette. ”I had — and I stress the word ‘had’ — a lot of respect for Larry Brown,” said Pesquera, who smirked and shook his head when he heard Brown explain that he tried to rescind the timeout. “Dean Smith would have never done anything like that.” I can still see the veins in Brown’s forehead popping when he heard that.
_ Anthony’s 10 3-pointers obliterated the U.S. record of six set by Marbury in that same game, and Team USA’s 156 points not only marked the largest margin of victory ever by a U.S. Olympic team (the original Dream Team beat Cuba by 79 in their first game together vs. Cuba at the 1992 Tournament of the Americas in Cuba), but it also shattered the old U.S. mark of 133 points set vs. China in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics.
Which leads me to a tangent.
I covered that 133-point performance against China in 1996 when I was greener than an unripe banana, and I when I left the arena the media bus was just pulling away. So I decided to walk back to my hotel, which was less than a mile away, and I decided to take the peripheral route rather than straightline it through Olympic Park, which was mobbed.
As I was walking home, this happened:
I spent that night reporting from Grady Hospital, the largest in Atlanta, and pretty much everyone in Atlanta spent the next several days watching the coverage of the U.S. authorities investigating/castigating security guard Richard Jewell, who had spotted the bomb moments before it exploded and warned folks to move away. If not for Jewell, the death toll would have been much higher than two.
Maybe three days after the bombing, I was walking back to the Georgia Dome to cover a game when I was told by a security guard or a police officer (can’t remember exactly which) that he needed to have a look inside my computer bag. Looking back on it, I was aghast that such a request was being made. In America, no one has the right to search you or your belongings without probable cause.
At least that was the case prior to 1996.
Since then, my bag has been searched hundreds of times at various events. The police here in New York now routinely execute a controversial “stop and frisk” policy, in which no probable cause whatsoever is needed to stop a citizen (usually a black or Hispanic citizen) and subject them to a pat-down. When you think about it, it’s astounding how much our value system has changed as the U.S. has evolved more and more into a police state.
Anyway, back to the London Games.
Here is one point I will make about the American’s crushing of Nigeria and Spain’s shocking one-point margin of victory over Great Britain, both of which happened yesterday: Both count as 2 points because they are in the “W” column. You do not get bonus points for piling on.
(RELATED CONTENT: Roundup of Thursday’s men’s basketball games in London.)
And after three days of competition, here is how things are shaping up:
_ That victory by France over Argentina was crucial, because France has all but locked up 2nd place in Group A. They defeated Lithuania on Thursday, and now all they need to do is defeat Nigeria and Tunisia to go into the knockout round without having to face the United States until the gold medal game — should each of them get that far.
_ Over in Group B, the jockeying is to finish 1st or 3rd. If you finish 2nd, you will likely have to play the Americans in the semifinals. Going into the final two games of pool play, Russia and Spain are tied at 3-0, and those teams play each other tomorrow. Should Russia defeat Spain, a tank alert should go out for Monday. That is when Spain will play Brazil with 2nd place in the group at stake. Whoever wins would be on track to play the U.S. in the semifinals. Whoever loses gets to avoid Team USA until the final.
An explanation for the New York dateline on this diary entry (and the fact that I was 38,000 feet in the air for the US-Nigeria game) is called for, and so here is the story. I played all my cards seeking that elusive credential, and my last couple of lifelines were coming up empty. Then I received an e-mail from USA Basketball informing the media that men’s basketball would now be a ticketed event, which means you need to have a credential and a special media ticket to cover the games (a policy that hadn’t been implemented since Atlanta in 1996).
So I dropped 100,000 Delta miles on a KLM business class ticket, non-stop from Amsterdam to New York, traveled through the north of France and Belgium to reach my cold and rainy destination (yes, it is hot over here in the States, but the Europeans would gladly take it. They have had cold and rain followed by more cold and rain, at least in Paris and Amsterdam.)
So my Delta frequent flyer account balance is now down to 438 miles, which means it’ll be a loooong time before I ever sit in the upstairs section of a Boeing-747 and dine on marinated shrimp accompanied by potato salad, cherry tomatoes, vichyssoise, creme of avocado, sweet and sour cucumber, coriander pesto and tapenade (that was just the appetizer) and fillet of chicken complemented by mashed potatoes, pearl onions, chicory, mushrooms and bacon (main course) with a couple glasses of 2011 Castel Firmian Pinoit Grigio from the dynamic Mezzacorona winery in Trentino, Italy.
The diaries will continue from stateside points yet to be determined. The only certainty is that one dateline will be New London, which is nearby.
As for that other certainty — Team USA winning the gold, let’s all take a step back and wait and see. Yes, the Americans were my pick, and Spain cannot touch them without Juan Carlos Navarro playing at full strength. I still think Brazil is the biggest threat, but Russia and its crafty American coach, David Blatt, could be the dark horse.
Remember, every team has one bad game during FIBA tournaments. It is a rule of thumb.
Until next time …
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. He has covered every version of Team USA since 1996, at the Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, as well as the World Championships in Indianapolis, Japan and Turkey. Follow him on Twitter.