We often hear that the FIBA World Championship is more important than the Olympics to most countries. It's the basketball equivalent of FIFA's World Cup. The problem is that nobody buys that in the U.S., where the world championships are much less significant than the Olympics. That's just how we do it in America, where we also refuse to embrace Nutella or the metric system.
So, chances are you might not know that the world championships will begin this weekend. And even if you do, you might have looked at the Team USA roster and -- after not seeing names like Kobe or LeBron or Carmelo or Dwight -- decided you wouldn't tune in.The squad we're sending to Turkey, after all, features just three All-Stars (Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose) after Rajon Rondo's departure and a bunch of youngsters. If you're not an NBA junkie, you might have never seen Eric Gordon dribble a basketball.
However, this promises to be an interesting tournament. Here are some reasons you should tune in:
Ricky Rubio sightings: Minnesota drafted the precocious virtuoso in 2009, but we haven't seen him since. He told Minnesota president David Kahn and the Timberwolves to kick rocks. He is the most hyped international prospect since Darko Milicic, but in Rubio's case, we should believe the hype. He might look like actor Jay Baruchel or some other dude where you wouldn't be afraid to, say, flirt with his girlfriend while he's standing next to her, but he plays like a beast. He's a cross between Pistol Pete Maravich, Jamal Crawford and Steph Curry. Rubio, who will no-look-pass you to death, is the most entertaining player in the tournament. The next month is your only chance to catch a glimpse of him for at least the next year.
A chance for Coach K haters to gloat: Not to suggest one would root against Team USA, but Mike Krzyzewski's haters will love watching him sweat. Team USA was really challenged only in the gold-medal game in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Other than that, Coach K was a cool cat on the bench as USA's superstars trampled the competition. The world championships will be much different. The red-faced maniac who surfaces on the Duke sideline sometimes? That man will appear regularly in this tournament. Sit back and snicker.