Of all the major sports, basketball is one of the only ones where we have conversations about who the "alpha-dog" on a given team is. It’s certainly the only one where this subject is not just hype or banter but is quite legitimate; where it can strongly affect teams, hinder or even ruin player relationships, and in extreme cases even make or break a season for a title contender (cases in point: 2004 Lakers, 2011 Heat).
In a game like basketball – where winning is based on an intricate balance between chemistry and individual talents– it’s easy to understand why the alpha-dog thing is such an issue. Many teams have more than one elite talent, and nearly every team has several guys who have spent at least some portion of their basketball career being the go-to-guy. Throw in egos inflated to the size of hot-air-balloons, media pressure and everything else, and you can see how something as seemingly meaningless as "Who’s our lead guy?" can cause distress.
So while I maintain my opinion that the 2012 US Olympic Basketball team cannot and will not be beaten, it’s always fun to play a little devil’s advocate. And while every basketball media outlet in the known world is bandying on about Spain’s menacing front-line being the potential undoing of another American gold medal, I think the real threat is much closer to home – in the USA’s own locker room.
After watching each Team USA prelim (except the Great Britain game…I’m sure you’ll forgive me for having better things to do), the team looks solid. Not great, not spectacular, but solid. The defense is excellent. The offense has been lethargic for periods, but that’s to be expected when you take 12 guys who are accustomed to being first or second options and ask many of them to be pick-setters or rebounders. No, considering everything, this team has performed to expectations thus far, even if they’ve come nowhere close to their ceiling. All the players seem to be growing more comfortable together. Along with that, the role-players seem to be adjusting to their new jobs, and this is starting to look like more of a real team than just a collection of talented individuals…with one exception.
That’s right, Kobe, I’m looking at you...(Click Here to Read On)