It has been 16 years since the United States have won a World Championship in Basketball. Kevin Durant, Chancey Billups and Derrick Rose, members of this year's US squad, are being compared to the 2008 US Olympic team which brought home a gold medal. Durant and Rose are no Kobe and LeBron but they are much better for this team and selling the sport at the this level. Don't get me wrong, I respect Bryant and James but I don't think Kevin Durant is given enough credit for his leadership skills. During this tournament, Durant has been given a chance to play aggressively and put points up on the scoreboard- in some very close games, I might add. I think it is good the US are not dealing Brazil and other clubs blow-outs. It shows there is more talent out there beyond the NBA which will only help the game grow. Right now, Durant and company have 4 days off before meeting the number 4 seed from Group A on September 6th. As for Canada, they sit at number 5 in Group D and are taking on France later today at 6:30pm. I would have expected Canada to at least squeak out a win in their first game against Lebanon - not loose by 10 (final score 81-71 Lebanon). I had my reservations considering the injuries and illnesses Team Canada had been suffering leading up to this tournament. However, the fan in me hopes they turn things around. I am really looking forward to Jack Armstrong's take on the Worlds so far. He'll be visiting the DNB tomorrow chatting with James about everything basketball. Jack is one of a handful of broadcasters out there who is honest and credible and keeps things real. I am really looking forward to tomorrow's interview. As a coach, I would love to ask him his take on charging students to play basketball at the gradeschool and high school level. That's a proposal on the table in Charlotte, believe it or not. Let's chat about this, a restructured NBA this year and Patrick Ewing back with the Knicks.
Paying to Play
Hmmmm. Use my allowance or part-time job earnings to have fun this summer and enjoy my youth or save it to play basketball? What to do, what to do. This is what gradeschoolers and high schoolers in Charlotte, North Carolina are being forced to think about right now. Charlotte schools cut $125 million from athletic programs this year. So now school officials have announced a plan to actually charge elementary school students $50 to play basketball while their friends in high school may have to pay $100. This is crazy. One of the attractions of playing for your school is not having a fee to pay like in Rep or House League outside of school. This is supposed to be a chance for students to be active and participate in sports without the monetary obstacle. Getting an education doesn't only mean going to school, listening to your teacher and coming home to tackle homework. It means broadening your horizons and getting involved in your school. The option to play basketball or any other sport for that matter should be there without question. Putting a fee on it may mean the difference of a student becoming active or involved. Lucky for Charlotte area students, Michael Jordan and the Bobcats are in town. According to the Charlotte Observer, Michael Jordan and the Bobcats organization will donate $250, 000 to Charlotte area schools to help boost their athletic programs. This is a part of the commitment MJ made when he took over the Bobcats earlier this year - to be involved in the Charlotte community. Wonder how MJ would look in a Santa suit? What a gift to give.
Talk about Pressure
Forget about the big three in Miami trying to win a championship this year or the Lakers and a three-peat. This is nothing compared to the pressure Patrick Ewing Jr. will be playing under this season. This is because he will be playing for the New York Knicks as a free agent - the same team his father played 15 seasons for and 11 All-star games with. Talk about playing under someone's shadow. Patrick Ewing Jr. was the 43rd pick of the 2008 NBA Draft by Sacramento and ended up with the Knicks after some shuffling. In 2008-2009, he spent some time honing his skills in the NBA Development League and missed last season because of a series of injuries. My goodness. I hope for his son's sake, Patrick Ewing Sr. stays away from Madison Square Garden for the first few games - Junior will have enough on his plate.
This is going to be an interesting year. Not just for the Knicks, but for the entire league. It seems like the NBA is getting nipped and tucked across the board. There are new coaches in Cleveland, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, New Jersey and with the L.A. Clippers. New General Managers are in the mix as well and we don't need to discuss the amount of player movement (or the drama involved) to prove change is on the horizon. All in all, I am really looking forward to this season and I hope you are, too. The DNB will be the place to be to get your Raptors-and-everything-basketball fix.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday when we will be discussing Can I Keep My Jersey? Until then, happy reading.