Passing The Torch

usabball

By Stefan Anderson

Since the 2004 collapse in the Athens, the USA basketball committee has been persistent with comprising the best talent to represent the stars and stripes.  The 2016 Olympics in the Brazil is shortly coming up and the United States is faced with the same dilemma.

With seasoned vets like Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and Chris Paul, once again at the head of the talent pool of over 30 players, that all want to star in the Olympics.  The question arises, should the same players be selected due to seniority and talent instead of giving the emerging talent of the NBA an opportunity to play?

I don’t believe so.

Although these players are far from their prime, the likes of Bryant, Paul, Anthony and James should not be selected for the 2016 Men’s National team. I believe that those players should give their opportunity to younger players that could benefit from the experience.

After playing in 3 consecutive Olympics James and Anthony should be excluded definitely and Paul and Bryant have played in the last two as well.

Many players have transformed following their Olympic experience.

  • After the 2000 Olympics- Vince Carter not only made his greatest highlight over (moment of silence) Frederic Weis, but posted his best statistical season averaging 27 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.9 apg and was a series away from heading to the NBA Finals.
  • The 2006 FIBA World Championship games, where the USA fell short and was awarded the bronze medal, a rising Carmelo Anthony was at the forefront for the USA, and went on to average a career high 28.9 ppg in 2006-07.
  • When the Redeem Team came together in 2008, Dwayne Wade played one of most pivotal roles as the team’s 6th Wade was struggling with concurrent injuries and failed to play on a full season, but following the Olympic experience played his most games during a season (79) and as well posting a staggering 30 ppg. Dwight Howard was also supplanted to the league’s premier post player and the only one the 2008 roster. Howard went on to secure his first DPOY award and led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals.
  • The 2010 FIBA World Championship was led by Kevin Durant, who helped the USA to win the gold medal. Durant’s play during the World Championship translated into the regular season as the Thunder begin to excel in the Western Conference and fell short of the Finals after their loss to eventual championship Dallas Mavericks.
  • Even more recent in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where the leading MVP candidates James Harden and MVP Stephen Curry where made into household names and NBA superstars after their international play.

Not to say the elder statesmen don’t deserve their opportunity to play in their final Olympics, but why not let a young star get the opportunity to turn into the next Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. There are so many players amongst the pool who could benefit greatly from the experience, but will not be able to if these vets don’t find a way to pass the torch.

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Never The Right Time To Say Goodbye

byeBy Stefan Anderson

Two different stories but with the same parallels, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning, two of our generations greatest athletes finding themselves at the ends of their run and can’t figure out a way to end their career on the right note.

Bryant, now in the final two years of his contract, has accomplished the accolades that he wanted to pursue except for that 6 championships to put himself on the same plateau on the GOAT, Michael Jordan. Following nearly seasons missed due to injury, Kobe now has to attempt to reach his dreams with all the odds against him.

Now playing on a Lakers team that at best compete for the 8th seed for the upcoming finds himself chasing the dream of going out on top. Not to put the blame on Bryant but after a receiving the contract he received, but Kobe could of took a selfless role like a Dirk Nowitzki, who took a pay cut for this team to bring a big free agent to help his team compete.

Now the Black Mamba has to stick out the remainder of contract chasing the dream of going out on top.

Manning , on the other hand has seen brighter days after sitting out for a season due to a near career ending neck injury, has seen the best regular seasons during his 3 year run in Denver. While remaining one of the most feared quarterbacks in the NFL, the Tennessee product has yet to bring his team over the hump. Denver on the other has brought a tremendous amount of talent on both ends of the field to provide the former MVP with all talent needed.

The results haven’t panned out in the way they need them too.

Bryant now 36, and Manning who is 38, are playing to finish their career with the proper story book ending to a illustrious careers on both ends but their competitive drive is what makes great is a gift and curse.

Both known to be the hardest workers in their respective sports but neither have paved the way or made another player around them to become better. How many quarterbacks under Manning have seen a starting position after playing behind him? How many guards or players have seen stardom or a career blossom after playing under Bryant? And while the discussion is there, both Bryant and Manning are known to be clutch performers but how many championship winning plays have either of them made?

That is beside the point, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning have extended their careers further then they needed to go and now face the reality to see their careers end in the way they don’t want them to.

Its cliché, but there is never a perfect ending to anything.