Saturday, August 11, 2012

Argentina's Olympic Basketry

Living in Argentina often means jumping through hoops – if, for instance, you need to purchase dollars to travel abroad – but for some Argentines it means playing or watching hoops.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve paid little attention to the Olympics, which I find tedious – and not just because of horrendous TV coverage that seems to suggest that any sport without US participants is insignificant. Certainly there are inspiring stories but, far more often than not, the presentation is insufferably maudlin.

While I’m neither an Olympics fan nor a basketball fan, I do find the story of the Argentine Olympic basketball team engrossing. In Argentina, this team is known as the Generación Dorada (Golden Generation) because, improbably, it defeated the United States’ so-called “Dream Team” in the semi-finals in the Athens games of 2004, and then won the Gold Medal over Italy. Other than the controversial Munich games of 1972, this was the only time the US ever failed to get the Gold, and the Argentines richly deserved it, thanks to the team-oriented efforts of Manu Ginóbili, Andrés Nocioni, and Luis Scola, all of whom have distinguished themselves in the National Basketball Association.

This time, though, an aging Argentine squad lost twice to the US, most recently in yesterday’s semi-finals by a one-sided 109-83 score. While I’m no basketball authority, I expect it’s fair to say that the US team’s greater depth – in reality, it’s an NBA All-Star team – simply wore down the Argentines.

Tomorrow, the Argentines will face Russia for the Bronze in what will almost certainly be Ginóbili’s Olympic finale – he will be 39 years old by the time the Rio de Janeiro games roll around in 2016, when Scola will be 36 and Nocioni (now playing professionally in Spain) will be 37.

Basketball is, of course, a secondary sport in Argentina, where nothing will ever displace soccer. The Liga Nacional de Básquet (national professional basketball league) gets relatively little attention in the press, and probably tennis (where the country’s had many high profile stars, such as Guillermo Vilas) and even golf have a higher profile. Whether anybody in the near future will be able to approach the stature and accomplishments of the Golden Generation is open to question.

Tango by the River
There’s been a change in schedule. I will still give a digital slide lecture on Buenos Aires at Tango by the River in Sacramento, but it has been postponed until Friday, September 21st, at 6 p.m.
Limited to a maximum of 50 people, the event will also include tango performances; admission costs $10, or $8 in advance. I have spoken here several times before, and we always sell out, so plan in advance. Signed copies of my Moon Handbooks on Argentina, Buenos Aires, Chile and Patagonia will be available at discount prices.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like Argentina beating U.S.A in the olimpics but didn't happen, so sorry about that :(

    I really didn't know anything about this sport here in Argentina, people here just talk about soccer as you said in the article.

    I hope you could visit my blog sometime:

    Viajar a Argentina

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete

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