Olympic Update: Phelps Phreak Show Continues

Michael Phelps continued his dominant performance in swimming, winning his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympic Games with a world record time of 1:54:23 in the 200 IM, beating teammate Ryan Lochte and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary.  This was an event I thought would be highly difficult for Phelps to win but, with Lochte swimming and winning gold in world-record time in the 200 backstroke not a half-hour before, Phelps made it look easy, getting off to a good start in the fly, slightly increasing his lead in the backstroke over Lochte and increasing his lead in the breaststroke–his weakest stroke–before pouring it on in the free in the final 50.  It’s the seventh time he broke the world record in the 200 IM, and he broke his own record of 1:54:80.  Ridiculous, nothing short of ridiculous.  Tomorrow night he goes for the gold in the 100 fly against world record holder Ian Crocker.

Anyone watching the US Men’s Basketball team today against Greece got treated to an exhibition of tremendous team and defensive basketball by the US, which dominated from the middle of the second quarter on as they blew out the team who beat them in the 2006 World Championships, 92-69.  A close game until halfway through the second quarter, the US turned up the defensive intensity and consistently pressured Greece into turnovers (25 in all) that the US turned into easy baskets.  Highly impressive was watching Dwayne Wade dive off the court for a loose ball and hurl it to the hoop, where Kobe Bryant grabbed it in midair and slammed it.  It reminded me of the time when Sherman Douglas, the great Syracuse point guard, dove out of bounds for a loose ball in the extreme left corner and flung it for an alley-oop dunk to Derrick Coleman.  I was very impressed with Chris Bosh, the Raptors center, who was tough and steady around the rim on both sides of the floor, handling well the physical pressure and Greece usually places on opposing post players.  He was excellent, scoring 18 points, and just does not get enough attention for being an outstanding and versatile player.  Wade was no less impressive, with 17 points and six steals and looking healthy.  Kobe had 18 points.  I have to add that, in addition to these three, LeBron James was tremendous on both ends of the floor, playing a great all-around game.  They’re all great to watch but, when the US has Kobe, Wade, and LeBron on the floor with Kidd, they really have four guards but, with Kobe and LeBron, are big and athletic enough to play against most forwards while being much quicker.  It’s something to see and, with the incredible depth the US has, including sharp-shooter Michael Redd, physical guard Deron Williams, forward Carlos Boozer and others coming off the bench, the US only needs good shooting, focus, and a little anger to carry them.

What great American teams have always done is overwhelm teams defensively, get out and run to take advantage of turnovers, play unselfishly, and hit open shots.  They did all those things, constantly interrupting Greece’s pick-and-roll game, forcing Greece to play and pass the ball 25-30 feet away from the basket, and rotate extremely well.  It was outstanding, and the US looked decidedly intense against a team that, for all its vaunted toughness, wilted under the US pressure.  Spain is next, probably the second-best team in the tournament and certainly capable of beating the US should they not bring the same effort that they had against Greece.  Spain has very good guards including Jose Calderon, whom Kobe will probably cover, as well as the Gasol brothers on the front line.  They’re big and physical as is Greece, but with better guard play.  The game Saturday will be great to watch. I’ll be rooting extra hard against Spain for the stupid, racist photo they took slanting their eyes.  Screw them.  I hope the US trounces them and they don’t medal.

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Published in: on August 14, 2008 at 10:58 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully they’ll have it on nbc.com soon.


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