Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog: "The Olympics are just four days old, but the best quote of the Games has already been uttered, and there is a 0.000000 chance that it will be topped. This from colleague Michael Abramowitz's Style Section story about the Bush Fam this morning. 'Meeting Team USA with Bush 43 before the game, Bush 41 gave a warm hug to Lakers star Kobe Bryant and received an affectionate greeting from Cavaliers hero LeBron James: 'What's up, pops?' the massive James asked.' One way for a 23-year old pro basketball player to greet a former President might be 'Hello, Mr. President.' Another might be 'What's up, pops.' I'm done making fun of LeBron for the crying and the scowling and the wide-eyed disbelief. Anyone who breaks out the 'What's up pops?' line is ok by me."
Britt Robson of the Rake: "Even Doug Collins couldn't help but comment that the Chinese weren't even bothering to guard Kidd, who not only didn't shoot in his 13 minutes on the floor, but didn't drop a single dime and tied for the team lead in turnovers (with Kobe, who played more than twice as many minutes). Throw in aged footwork on defense and the mystery deepens as to why Paul and D-Will hug the pine at the onset."
Kobe Bryant makes sprinter Tyson Gay's day, per the Associated Press: "He is famous in his own right, the fastest man in America, a world champion and a possible star of the Beijing Olympics. But when Tyson Gay ran into Kobe Bryant at the gym the other day, well, he did what any sports fan would do. He got excited. Star-struck even. Posed for a photo, then text messaged his mom. Bryant asked Gay about his troublesome hamstring. 'He said, 'How's the leg? I'm going to check you out and keep you in my heart,'' Gay said. 'It really meant something to me. Because he's a huge superstar.'"
Alan Paul for NBCOlympics.com: "Once the game took its inevitable turn towards U.S. dominance towards the end of the second quarter, the energy level went down a notch and the crowd began to cheer breakaway dunks by Bryant, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Team USA should have a sizable homecourt advantage through the rest of these games. They were even serenaded by some chants of 'USA Jai Oh' -- add oil, or go stronger -- the chant usually reserved for China, or Zhong Guo. In the fourth quarter, the Chinese made another little run spurred by New Jersey Nets Yi Jianlian and the crowd roared back to life. When it was over and the teams shook hands, the Chinese players looked thrilled to be there, which can't be a good thing going forward for them. Chinese coach Jonas Kazlauskas said as much after the game, in a press conference. Despite the tremendous home crowd, he called this a tough game psychologically for his team. 'The NBA is very popular in China,' he explained. 'You can't see a European game but you see the NBA everywhere and these guys are heroes to a lot of our players. That makes it a difficult.'"
Brian from Knickerblogger: "It was a fun game to watch, but there are definitely some worrisome aspects of USA's game (or as worrisome as a 30 point blowout can be) & First off, the three-point shooting by the starters has got to improve. A measly two out of twelve by the starters. Luckily, the bench was 5 for 12 for a not so pathetic overall 7 for 24 (they missed 15 of their first 16 -- Michael Redd, you are needed!) ... The defense was impressive, as Coach K has used his surplus of guards to great effect by having them press on made free throws, figuring if they tire, he only has a gazillion other All-Star guards on his bench to go to to fill-in. Of course, that makes free-throw shooting pretty important."
Nike vs. Adidas, playing out in the Beijing retail environment. A likeness of Gilbert Arenas is there, with a chef hat and a hibachi.
One of the big games of the weekend was Spain vs. Greece. Two superpowers of international basketball, meeting this early, was a rare treat. And as Marc Gasol started over his brother Pau, and Rudy Fernandez led the team in scoring, Spain dispensed easily with Greece. ESPN's Chris Sheridan quotes the Greek Coach Panagiotis Yannakis, who blames his team's poor performance: "We have to concentrate on our free throws, and concentrate on not throwing the ball into the hands of our opponents. We're going to try next game to not give away so many presents."
Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm liveblogged Spain vs. Greece. Great stuff, like this: "Ricky Rubio, in ten words: Great speed. Small body. Young. Quick off pick. Stupid hair."
Watching Spain closely have been Portland fans, scouting incoming Blazer Rudy Fernandez. Dave from BlazersEdge: "Rudy has good height and appears to use it. ... He doesn't let grass grow under his feet when there are points to be had. He's also fast getting up in the air. One of the problems plaguing the current Blazer leapers is that their rim finishes take a long time to develop. Rudy appeared to get in the sky in a hurry. I don't have many doubts about him being able to get shots up in the NBA. Everything that's good about him happens fast. ... Creating those openings for himself may be an issue. His offense didn't go anywhere when he was in traffic. His best interior attempts (the highlight reel stuff) came when he had a clear lane. When he was bothered he looked like a float-and-hoper inside. ... The worst part of Rudy's game by far was his defense, which, aside for a couple noticeable moments, ranged from a high of semi-adequate to a low of wholly ineffective. He was reaching, leaning, and getting beat off of the dribble with regularity in the first quarter. He got a little more active in the second quarter but still ended up getting to the spot late, getting out of position, and/or playing with his arms instead of his feet. He ran behind every pick thrown at him when he didn't get rubbed off entirely. ... I feel pretty comfortable saying that if he played that style of defense against any NBA guard he'd get BBQ'ed like a Kansas City rib."
Sheridan also describes the basketball play of the tournament so far, which capped Lithuania's win over Argentina: "[Sarunas] Jasikevicius used a high screen to get Fabricio Oberto to switch onto him defensively, then drove the lane and got the defense to collapse just the slightest bit -- but enough to get Linas Kleiza an open look from 3-point range. Kleiza drilled it with 2.1 seconds left, Carlos Delfino turned over the ensuing inbounds pass, and the tournament had its first stunner."
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: "... don't forget Dwyane Wade, who was, well, perfect, 7 of 7 from the field, 5 of 5 from the line. What Sunday's Olympic victory over China, like so many of the United States' pre-Olympic exhibitions, showed is how Wade flourishes in a team system, when he can be part of something, instead of having to be everything. Does the Heat have that luxury yet? No, not without a dominant rebounder to trigger breaks, not without a proven point guard to guide the offense. But what games such as Sunday demonstrate is how much of a crime it is not to surround Wade with players with such skill sets. As a do-it-all presence, Wade likely will continue to find himself caught amid a swarm of NBA defenders. But as a featured player, on a balanced roster, Sunday showed how special a talent the Heat possesses, in case anyone had forgotten."
Alan Paul for SLAM: "Some thoughts on the Chinese team: Yi Jianlian looked totally lost most of the game. Sorry Nets fans. Sun Yue, newly signed by the Lakers after being drafted by them last year, looked good. He did not back down against his future teammate Kobe in the early going, made some threes and created open looks for others. Sun's backup Chen Jianghua also looked great, though he is still probably too frail to play real D and his outside shot looks to be severely lacking. He comes in and quickly splits the D, driving in and as the defense collapses, he kicks out to the corner for an open three. The nest time down, he makes a similar move, freezes the D with a fake pass and goes to the hoop for an easy two. ... He's a streetball kid who was supposed to be the first great Chinese PG, but his development ahs stalled a bit and it was touch and go if he would even make the National Team. I'm hoping he keeps developing."
Among those Chris Kaman says have not been supportive of his playing for Germany in the Olympics: his dad, and the Clippers. Also, we learn Kaman was personally responsible for shaving Olympic rings into German teammate Dirk Nowitzki's hair.
Something about the shape of Carlos Boozer's skull making him more likely to betray people. Honestly.
Matt Slater on BBC.com: "The US outscored China 24-4 on the fast break and claimed 60% of their points from inside the paint. Wade (who was perfect from the free-throw line too) was seven for seven from the floor and Chris Bosh four for four. But when all your shots are dunks, they should go in."
The Spanish national team doing, I don't know what exactly. Probably means very little, but I'm sure glad that's not Team U.S.A.
Jennifer 8. Lee of The New York Times: "Late Sunday night I stopped in for dinner at a Chengdu-style restaurant called Wan Liu Yuan in the northwest of Beijing and found the entire staff - waiters, waitresses, even the cook - staring at the television, which was set to CCTV-2, normally the economics channel but now dedicated to the Olympics, as many television channels in China have been. (Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, where the massive earthquake took place in May.) Through a combination of the N.B.A.'s efforts, domestic sports marketing and the celebrity status of Yao Ming, basketball has become a national pastime in China, joining table tennis and badminton as a sport that is not only watched but played. ... As customers came in, a waitress would scurry to take the order with her head craned toward the television. The cook would rapidly prepare the order, then come back out and plop down at a table to watch the game."
UPDATE: Wow. This is shoddy. Some of the fireworks that you saw in the opening ceremonies were, in fact, not real fireworks, but digital TV effects.
1dEthan Sherwood Strauss
3dEthan Sherwood Strauss
3dHenry Abbott and David Thorpe
4dHenry Abbott and David Thorpe
4dEthan Sherwood Strauss