Opinion: Lending a Hand
Team USA Basketball should try its hand at handball
By Carter BryantPosted Aug 8, 2012
USA Basketball needs to branch out.
There have been many comparisons and discussions about whether or not the 2012 team could beat 1992’s “Dream Team.” While the debate could go down as the most enjoyable barbershop discussion in the history of, well, life, it is basically pointless. We will never know who could win.
If the 2012 USA Basketball team wants to be their own “Dream Team,” they should suit up and play a different sport in the Olympics – handball.
It is a rather simple sport. Essentially, it’s water polo on a court. It requires a small, hard ball that bounces, and the goal of the offense is to try and throw it in the goal past a goalkeeper. It’s the 21st century; you can Google all the rules if need be. I will tell you, however, that if you YouTube “handball” you’ll be amazed at how awesome this sport is.
It is also easy to see how dominant American basketball players would be at the sport. It’s un-American for USA to be this bad at handball.
I believe basketball players are the best all-around athletes on earth. Not only can they run and jump with the best, they are also the tallest and the biggest.
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Team USA forward Carmelo Anthony said he would love to join USA’s handball team. Many considered his statement a joke, but Anthony has a point.
What could it hurt? USA didn’t even come close to qualifying for handball in London 2012.
An important qualifier for this year’s Olympics was the 2011 PANAM Games. The current USA Handball team lost 36-19 to Argentina. Unless the contest involves a guy named “Messi,” Argentines should never whoop Americans that badly.
So I challenge you, sports fans: watch handball the next time it is on TV. The athletes don’t blow you away with athleticism. They look like the type of guys you would call to fix your television. There are seven players on a court at a time – six players plus one goalie. A projected USA starting lineup would be Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala, and Kevin Love as the goalie.
How unstoppable would that lineup be? King James’ power and court vision mixed with the length and scoring ability of Durant, Anthony, and Bryant. Westbrook and Iguodala would be as fast as anybody on the court on the defensive end, and Love has amazingly quick reflexes.
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Anthony Davis aren’t bad bench options, either. Plus if Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Dwight Howard were healthy, it would be amazing to watch.
Most of these NBA stars would be as big, as tall, and as fast against anybody they would face. They also have no shortage of ball skills and hand-eye coordination.
If USA hired a half-decent handball coach to teach them the game, they would crush any team that stood in their path within just one month of training.
The tallest member on France’s defending Olympic champion team is 6-foot, 5-inch Jerome Fernandez. The only USA starter shorter than Fernandez would be Westbrook. USA would annihilate France like they did in their opening game of basketball.
There are some rule issues USA would face, however. A player isn’t allowed to hold the ball for more than three seconds, so there would be a steep learning curve for ball-hogs Bryant and Anthony.
A player can’t take three steps without dribbling in handball, either. Even though London always welcomes kings, James would need to leave his “crab dribble” in the states. But with the way the NBA is officiated, every member of Team USA would struggle with not being able to take extra steps.
Imagine the news and buzz this would create. Team USA could actually make history. USA has never been elite in handball. Winning gold in basketball does little to their legacy when compared to winning gold in a completely different sport altogether.
If the NBA players don’t want to play, that’s fine. Let’s go to the NFL. They have nothing to do during the summer. Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Patrick Peterson, and others would do just fine. Recruit USA soccer goalie Tim Howard and that team would be great, too.
But if USA Basketball wants to be a “Dream Team,” they should fulfill my dream of playing more than one sport in the Olympics.
Oh yeah, the USA Women’s handball team didn’t come close to London, either. USA women aren’t too shabby in hoops and are filled with athletic superstars.
Why not make handball an American double?
Something to think about.