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"It's an embarrassment"
by HoopsHype / September 5, 2002

GEORGE KARL: "The symbolic importance is that this is a great game. It is a game that the world has fallen in love with. In this time of feeling poorly, awful, there's a part of me that is in a celebration of basketball. It is a game a lot of countries now love, and we must accept the challenge to compete, to get stronger, better. I think my team and our country will be very challenged. It will be very interesting to see how we respond ...

... I tip my hat to Argentina ... Our scouts had known and told us that for the last two weeks they had been playing the best basketball. We lost our composure to their intensity early. And our lack of urgency in other games finally caught up with us ... I'm just happy that it happened now and that we still have a chance to accomplish what we came here to accomplish. And that is to win the gold medal. Now, we want to concentrate on preparing for our next game. We don't have that much time between games, and we've just got to get ready.

ANTONIO DAVIS: "It's very clear that understood what it was going to take to beat us. Their body language, the way they attacked, the way they played together, all that equates to winning."

BARON DAVIS: "I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed ... We didn't come ready. We didn't come ready to play. We didn't pass the ball. We were arguing with each other."

PAUL PIERCE: "I'm embarrassed to be on the team that took the first loss ... We can still win the gold medal, but we're still the team ... The frustration came from what we were doing ... We got kind of frustrated with the calls by the referees. We let it affect us in the first half. We did not play our game. We did not keep our composure and it hurt us. We dug ourselves a hole we could not get out of."

ANDRE MILLER: "It's an embarrassment. It's obviously an embarrassment. We're supposed to be the so-called superstars, representing the U.S.A., and we didn't even lead the whole game."

ELTON BRAND: "We're not supposed to lose our composure ... We're NBA players. Guys lost their composure, and we talked about that at halftime. We're supposed to go out there and play."

REGGIE MILLER: "The fear factor is gone ... The respect is there. But you've got to go out there and earn it."

EMANUEL GINOBILI: "It's great, a very important win ... More than what it means in this championships is what it means for Argentina basketball. We are very proud ... With about one minute to go, we couldn't believe it ... It is a big thing for the rest of the world that a team could beat them ... Now, we can believe it. Many have come close. But no one ever did ...

... I think many people will be very happy today. When the years pass and people talk about us and our team, it will always make us proud ... It's a big win for the rest of the world. Many have come close. But no one has ever done it ...

... I said the only weak point they have is they don't know each other ... They are not accustomed to team defense. When we made the pass with the small guy to the big one, they didn't know whether to change, to switch or not, who's going to go on top for the three. I think they were confused with all the picks and moving game ...

... But we don't think we are really close to the States ... They definitely are much better. But in a single game in this kind of tournament we can win. Many people say this wasn't a Dream Team. But if you look at them you can say they are a Dream Team too. If they had good preparation and stay together the time we do as a national team, we can never beat them."

PEPE SANCHEZ: "I don't know how big basketball will be in our country after this."

FABRICIO OBERTO: "A lot of people said we weren't going to win this game. But we were determined to play hard on every possession. We still don't realize what we have done. And we won't have much time to think about it because we have to prepare for the next game."

CHAD FORD, ESPN.com: "The outcome was probably preordained. With international players making huge strides and USA Basketball getting weaker and weaker, it was a matter of time. The United Sates has been getting by on its B game for years. It's been plagued with too much dream, not enough team. The U.S. teams had already lost their biggest edge, intimidation, over the course of the last decade. Now everyone with an accent and a pair of high tops is circling like a vulture."

MIKE KAHN, SportsLine.com: "All the same reasons why the NBA has taken to drafting international players -- the rosters closing in on 18-20 percent these days -- were reflected by the Argentina victory. This Argentina squad now is 6-0, and will go down in history as the answer to the trivia question about the team that ended the USA's win streak with NBA players at 58. Because soon enough, another loss will come, even if this U.S. team does bounce back and win the gold medal this weekend ... You want isolation? Try being alone after being a part of the first U.S. team that loses. Try standing on the free throw line, missing one after another. That's the real isolation game for these guys as they became the first team to lose in an international game."

MIKE MONROE, FOXSports: "Don’t dunk on me, Argentina ... We expected the United States to get a real challenge from a couple of the teams entered in the FIBA World Championships for Men here this week ... This was the biggest upset in international basketball since the Soviet Union beat the U.S. in the gold medal game of the 1972 Olympics. Maybe bigger. That 1972 Olympic team was composed of American collegians, not NBA players. And this game was on American soil, in the heartland of the country, in Indiana, a place where hoops are sacred ...

... George Karl got the skin coached off him by Ruben Magnano of Argentina. His team more often than not looked confused and unfocused, disorganized on offense and helpless on defense to deal with Argentina's precise sets."

BOB KRAVITZ, Indianapolis Star: "Do not dwell, at least today, on the Americans' failings, on the end of a dynasty. Dwell instead on Argentina's wonderful moment, what it means not only for a country beset by political and economic troubles, but for the revolution that is international basketball. We kept hearing that the game was growing overseas. Now, we can believe it. Now, we can know it ... This might have been a bad moment for American basketball, and it should force coaches and players here to rethink our increasingly stultifying style of game. While Paul Pierce said he was "embarrassed" to be part of the first vanquished team of American pros, the truth is, the team should be more embarrassed about its lack of cohesiveness and composure."

SAM SMITH, Chicago Tribune: "The loss raised key points about whether the concept of putting together a U.S. All-Star team is workable anymore against national teams with more skilled players. Does the United States need its best players now to win? Or does it need better team makeup? With Reggie Miller limping on a sore ankle, the United States had no great perimeter shooter with Ray Allen's withdrawal. There was no post-up offensive player to challenge the defense and it is a relatively small team with no true center."

STEVE WYCHE, Washington Post: "The reign ended in a nightmare for the, ahem, Dream Team. The United States' NBA-laden men's basketball team not only had its 58-game international winning streak snapped, it also had this nation's decade-long ownership of international basketball dominance ended, in its backyard."

HARVEY ARATON, New York Times: "No Shaq, no Kobe, no McGrady, but please, no excuses, for more shocking than the score — Argentina 87, U.S.A. 80 — was how it was achieved. For all the talk of how the Europeans and Asians and South Americans now have game, the Argentines surely did not beat the United States last night at its own game. They won with the passing and precision you would have found in an Indiana country high school gymnasium with wooden backboards 40 years ago. They beat the United States at a game it abandoned — for better or worse, and let that be open for lengthy discussion — a long time ago ...

... For all the romanticizing of the Dream Team and its 43-point average Olympic victory, it was as much a pickup team as this one here. They were just the greatest players of what may have been the N.B.A.'s ultimate generation, and in the depressing final seconds last night, Karl watched with his arms folded as the punctuation was applied to the belief that only the very best N.B.A. players may — I repeat, may — be good enough to guarantee victory at this level."

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