5 Manly Lessons From The 2008 USA Basketball “Redeem” Team
The USA Men’s Basketball team, the Redeem Team, has moved into the finals against Spain after slapping around the helpless Argentina team. They get a Spain team that recently went through some of their own controversy brought on by themselves.
Entering these Olympic Games, I had to listen to all kinds of people tell me they were still a bunch of punks that would allow their ego’s to get in the way of the greater good. I started to believe all the useless drivel myself, but quickly got snapped back into reality.
USA Basketball is back to the days of the Dream Team, beating opponents by 20+ every game. They are not only winning by huge margins, they are doing everything in their power to make the statement to back the hell off.
To be fair, they needed to make this statement at every single opportunity, like another one of our legends Gordie Howe used to do in order to win the game before even stepping on the ice. At least the message got across from the failures in Athens 4 years ago. Their lessons are also lessons we can apply concerning the topic of this site, manliness.
What’s really cool about this team is they have stayed true to themselves. You see, the lessons below could have all been turned against them. They are all considered weaknesses. But like any great winner will tell you, a man’s weakness is also his greatest strength – if he knows what to do with it.
On the defensive.
When someone loses their cool or know they are in the wrong, they tend to get defensive. In the case of US Basketball Team, they took getting defensive to a whole other level. What we are seeing is arguably the greatest basketball defensive display of all time.
These guys are so selfish about their numbers and their minutes, they know the only way to score more points is to get the ball back as quickly as possible. They also know that Coach K from Duke Basketball fame will go all Bobby Knight on them if they don’t do whatever it takes to stop the other team.
This team has some of the biggest egos known to mankind. Look at their roster and there isn’t one guy that isn’t insanely jealous of each other. It’s crazy. Off the court, I am certain it is all about who scores the most in Beijing. On the court, the insane egos are not curtailed or ignored. They have all just figured they will check their personal ego’s at the door in favor of a hugely successful team ego.
Bill Russell, a future Profiles in Manliness candidate, speaks of his huge ego (for team success) in his autobiography on leadership skills. The players of this USA Men’s Basketball team have taken this to heart. They want the team to win and be champs more than anything and that spells disaster to the foreign wannabe’s.
One of the seven deadly sins, a man getting consumed by the emotion of revenge is not a good thing. These guys can’t help it, though. Not the most scholarly gents around, revenge is part of who they are. Without proper supervision (Coach K), they would have ended up feeling quite inadequate with the results if this is all they focused on.
I give a lot of credit to the four players on the team in 2004 (Wade, Anthony, James and Boozer) who are leading the charge of not speaking of what they want most – revenge. It just so happens these players are the most vocal and determined out there (outside of Kobe Bryant) to win gold.
Will they say the word “revenge?” I haven’t heard it. Is it part of their every ounce of being when they get out there looking to rape and pillage the other team out of their dignity – yup.
These cast of characters are known as leaders on their teams and don’t take kindly to listening to anyone – let alone other stars looking for the limelight. They decided to embrace this fact of life and simply turn off whatever any of the naysayers were spewing about their chances.
The one area where they broke the mold was in Coach Krzyzewski. Not sure if he needed to do anything other than remind them of the punking they got in Athens 4 years ago, but they are listening. You can see it on the court. It might be that Coach K has just a little bit of crazy in him like Coach Knight. Not known to show this crazy on the sidelines, Coach K is fully capable (his mentor is Coach Knight).
Along with the ego’s, this group has as much selfishness in them as a Sweet 16 Debutant on her “biggest day of her life”. Seriously, they are products of the me generation and it shows from time to time during their real jobs back in the NBA.
But this time around, it’s a little different. Their selfish attitude is another great Bill Russellism – selfish as hell about the team’s success. They want more and more every time they go out. Beating a team by 15 points is simply not going to do it for these guys. They need to annihilate.
Lessons of manliness come in all shapes and sizes. It shows up when you least expect it and by some of those least likely to exhibit it. It is our duty to recognize these moments and do our best to incorporate them into our lives.