The Newest Olympic Sport Is Among Us
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The Newest Olympic Sport Is Among Us

3-on-3 basketball is here, and it could be awesome.

It's official! The International Olympic Committee has just announced that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will include 3-on-3 basketball for both men and women.

Since team USA has dominated the competition in regular 5-on-5 basketball for many years with only one loss on their record, some people will not be as excited to see this new event. However, as dominant as team USA has been in this event, 3-on-3 basketball is a very different challenge.

The pace of the game is extremely fast with only 12 seconds to shoot each possession. Extreme focus and precision is essential when making decisions and taking shots due to the quick turnaround that one mistake can cost a team. The high stakes and rapid pace of the game should have spectators on their on the edge of their seats during every possession.

To spice things up even more, team USA will also need to get used to the FIBA rules. Besides the ball being slightly smaller than the NBA ball, the biggest difference in these rules is that once the ball hits the rim, anyone is free to swat the ball off. In the NBA, this would be considered goaltending and would give the offense the basket. However, FIBA rules allow this to be a major part of the game. This adds an extra element that NBA fans are not used to seeing and could be very fascinating to watch.

An interesting entity to think about is who would possibly play in this 3-on-3 competition. There are a multitude of potential very exciting trios that could be extremely fascinating to watch.

Would LeBron James team up with some of his super friends Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony for a chance to finally play together? Would former teammates Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kevin Durant join forces again to see what could've been? Could we possibly see two of the best ball handlers in Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry team up, or best defenders Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green join forces. The options here are limitless.

However, LeBron James was recently asked about playing in this competition and he didn't seem to personally have an interest. He was quoted saying, "I'm not very good at the 3-on-3 thing" and "I'm more of a 5-on-5 guy." This could be the mindset of other NBA stars but for right now we will just have to wait and see. The Tokyo games are a couple years away, so everyone has ample time to think this through.

Retired NBA players might even decide to join the fun. They could actually be slightly more likely to represent Team USA than NBA players. Former players such as Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson, Jason Williams, with many more, are all competing in a 3-on-3 competition this summer put together by Ice Cube called The Big3.

These same players may very well likely be the ones available when it's time for the Olympics. As of right now, the Big3 league is noncommittal on this subject. They did however put out a statement supporting the new Olympic sport saying "This decision reconfirms our gut instinct that 3-on-3 basketball is what sports and entertainment fans want to see."

Whether it is current or former NBA players representing the U.S. for 3-on-3 basketball in 2020, the games will be widely successful. This type of pickup style basketball is something that many fans can relate to, and now they can watch the greatest athletes in the world play in this unique setting.

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Is FIBA Better than the NBA?

A definitive comparison.

Have you been wondering why Olympic basketball has such a strange feel to it?

I'll be honest: That's probably because it's like watching a Texas high school basketball juggernaut compete against a third grade rec team from a Portland suburb night in and night out, but not so fast!

The FIBA international basketball rules play a huge role in this too.

But while these weird international rules may be foreign to most NBA fans, does that mean that they're necessarily worse?

So let's stop wasting time and do what America does best: Try to validate our own way of doing something even though literally the entire world does it differently. Because even though the international field stands no chance of beating the USA on the court, maybe they can best us in the rule books (nerds).

Game Length
The first time I watched olympic basketball, I thought that it was just shorter because nobody plays defense. Then I realized that olympic basketball is literally shorter by a whole eight minutes.

Because while the NBA plays four 12-minute quarters, FIBA rules dictate there be four 10-minute quarters. And you know what? Nobody really gives a shit. So let's keep this one short.

Advantage: Nobody.

The Three-Point Line
Thanks to Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest of the 2016 NBA runner ups out in the bay area, the three point arc has had a recent resurgence in the realm of basketball. So much so that some have actually suggested moving the three-point line back a few inches just to make things harder for teams who rely too much on outside shots.

Trying to eliminate something that's actually making the NBA way more fun? It's almost like the NBA is taking some notes from the NFL's playbook. However, that's beside the point.

What really matters here is that the FIBA three-point line is about .5 meters closer to the basket (.15 meters in the corners).And even though that only translates into a difference of around one and a half feet, we can get up on our high horse here like Americans do so well:

What's the matter, every other country in the world? Can't handle and extra foot and a half?

Advantage: NBA

If you're anything like me, you universally despise the time out. I want to watch sports! Not a bunch of fat, bald old men yelling at a clipboard while their teams completely ignore them.

They ruin the pace of the game!

And in the NBA, they really ruin the pace of a game. Each team gets six full timeouts a game, two twenty-second timeouts a half, and an additional three timeouts should the game go into overtime.

That's why the last minute of a close game can feel like torture. Inbound. Timeout. Inbound. Timeout.

However, FIBA does things right: You get two full time-outs in the first half, three in the second half, and an additional one in overtime. None of that twenty-second BS. And the possibility for more of this.

Advantage: FIBA

Jump Balls
Over the course of NBA history, the jump ball has given us some extremely comical moments. Poor Nate. He never stood a chance.

But that's what makes the NBA great - whether or not Nate Robinson had a chance to win the tip, there's no way he was going to back away from a challenge. He's tough. He's scrappy. He's determined. He fights for everything that he earns. And what's more American than that?

If that had been in a game being played by FIBA rules, the ball simply would have gone to the team that didn't get it during the last jump ball. Yep: jump balls are simply dictated by alternating possession starting with the team that wins the opening tip.

Kind of sounds like one of my 10-year-old sister's CCD-league games. And let me tell you: Those things are torture

Advantage: NBA

Fouling Out
While I may hate timeouts, I am a huge fan of fouling. I always love to see the creative and strategic ways that coaches use their fouls. Hacking at an opposing player, sending some bench-warming scrub out for the sole purpose of committing a foul, you name it.

I love it.

The only gripe I have is the fact that all fouls in the NBA aren't created equal: while six personal fouls will send you packing, it takes just two technical fouls to create the same result.

But in FIBA, technical or personal, it doesn't matter. You get five of them. And given the lack of defense played in Olympic basketball, players probably have a lot more leeway in the technical department. Just imagine if this guy could commit up to five techs per game.

He would literally have the power to send opposing players and referees home crying. I don't know about you, but that seems pretty fun to me.

Advantage: FIBA

Zone Defense
Ah, zone defense. A staple of whiny pickup basketball babies everywhere.

Is there anything worse than when you're trying to have some fun on the basketball court, only to have some gigantic schmuck planting his ass right under the basket, body-checking and fouling anybody who tries to get to the rim? Thankfully, the three-second rule eliminates the possibility of such a schmuck being present in an NBA game.

FIBA, on the other hand, leaves the door open for nonathletic oafs everywhere: Zone defense is 100 percent legal, and a defender doesn't have to be actively guarding an opponent to just sit in the lane.

Advantage: NBA

Goaltending/Basket Interference
It's a universal rule in the basketball world that the ball cannot, under any circumstances, be disturbed while on its downward trajectory towards the basket.

And in most leagues (NBA, WNBA, and NCAA), there exists an imaginary cylinder above the rim as well, dictating when a ball can actually be touched if it's above the rim.

In these leagues, if any part of the ball is within that imaginary cylinder, it's hands off.

Now, if that was a FIBA game, somebody could just reach up and slap that stubborn ball out of there, because the cylinder doesn't exist in international play. Once the ball hits the rim, it's fair game.

And at first glance, that actually seems pretty cool... if your favorite team has a beast like Deandre Jordan or Demarcus Cousins manning the boards. But if your team isn't blessed with an enormous, athletic freak of nature, then this rule would probably make you pull your damn hair out.

Imagine watching Boban Marjanovic reach up with one of his yeti-like hands and just pull shot after shot off of the rim for four quarters.

Not that cool now, right? So for the sake of small ball dominate teams everywhere, we'll have to wag our fingers at FIBA on this one.

Advantage: NBA

And the winner is... with a final record of 4-2-1... the NBA.


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Team USA Almost Lost To Serbia

Which is crazy as hell.

Team USA almost lost to Serbia. In men's basketball. In 2016.

On Friday night, that seriously almost happened.

Sure, Serbia has talent. Milos Teodosic is one of the best Euro players around, and Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nikola Jokic both play in the NBA, albeit in lesser roles.

But this one was expected to be somewhat similar to a repeat of the time the two teams met in the 2014 FIBA World Champions: a 37-point romp for the red, white, and blue.

Team USA hopped out to a 23-5 lead in the first quarter. It was pretty much what everyone expected: scared straight by a close win against Australia, Coach K's team would jump out with fire and run straight through Serbia.

Some even thought the game was over after one quarter.

Ah, but these are the 2016 Olympics, where the USWNT falls to Sweden (weird) and people swim in water filled with poop (weirder, I think). Nothing is predictable.

Serbia just refused to go away. After a few runs in either direction, USA took a 50-41 lead into halftime. Kevin Durant attempted just one field goal in the first half, and Klay Thompson continued to look lost, going bucket-less. (At halftime, Thompson had made four of 26 shots in three and a half Olympic games.)

Then came the third quarter.

...oh, were you expecting a huge run from Team USA? Nah.

Serbia hit threes on its first two possessions of the second half to cut the gap to seven. Team USA never took a lead bigger than 11 points in the second half. Serbia cut the difference to five points or fewer multiple times in the third quarter, before Team USA took it to the fourth with a 10-point lead, but even that wasn't safe.

Team USA simply couldn't put Serbia away, even with this monstrous dunk from DeAndre Jordan:

Nothing. Could stop. Serbia.

Milos Teodosic finished with 23 points, including a trio of three-pointers, at least two of which stemmed massive Team USA tides.

With 80 seconds left, Team USA led by three points. Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic had a wide-open, square-to-the-hoop look to tie the game with three seconds left. That's how close Serbia -- Serbia! -- was to forcing Team USA to overtime.

So, Team USA once again walked away with a win. But these Olympic qualifying rounds have proven to be a little more than just puff pastry tune-ups.

Honestly? I love it.

I'm usually bored out of my mind watching these preliminary games. I often don't make it past halftime. These close games are keeping me interested, and providing a sprinkling of schadenfreude every time they're playing a close game that even I, an American, can't help but love.

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Rio Serves as an NBA Tryout

Get noticed, get a contract.

Team USA is stacked.

A starting lineup that includes Kyrie, Klay, KD, Melo, and Boogie Cousins should scare even the biggest of Warriors fans. Yet, Team USA has just barely escaped not one, but TWO games with narrow victories against Australia and Serbia.

I've always wondered just how a team filled with as many NBA All-Stars as Team USA manages to either lose, or come as close to losing as they do.

The NBA is far and away the best league on the planet. NBA hopefuls even choose its "minor-league" over playing overseas for more lucrative contracts just to get the opportunity to play in front of NBA scouts.

A question that always finds its way into my head during international competition is in regards to the nobodies. This year, it's the members of team Serbia and team Australia that put up numbers against the best team in the world only to fade into irrelevancy once these games are over.

If Milos Teodosic can drop 18 points and six assists against Kyrie and Klay with Nikola Jokic as the only current NBA player on the Serbian roster, then what could he do against guys like Shane Larkin and JJ Barea?

Is it ridiculous to think that if a player can play with the best in international competition that he should at least be able to compete in the best league in the world?

If the NBA is really the best, then they need to find a way to make sure that if someone ends up having a big game against Team USA, he's already in the league.

Patty Mills dropped 30 points against Team USA in Australia's narrow loss, he's proven he can play in the league, what about everyone else?

Whether it comes from better scouting, putting the ego aside, or just being ready to play, Team USA needs to take international talent seriously when it comes to the Olympics. They could be playing them in the states sooner than they think.

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The Olympics Have Reminded Me Why Carmelo Is Awesome

Sometimes we just need a reminder.

The Olympics have had plenty of ups, and plenty of downs, but my personal favorite thing to come out of these past few weeks has been my re-appreciation of Carmelo Anthony.

It's easy to forget about him during the NBA regular season because the Knicks have been so abjectly awful the last few years, but Carmelo is kind of awesome.

He's tremendously charitable year-round. The Carmelo Anthony Foundation does plenty of awesome work with public schools, providing money for projects and programs, athletics and school supplies.

Carmelo also seems like a generally nice person. You ever notice how often he smiles? Everyone likes Carmelo, and it seems as if he likes everyone back.

The Olympics have also reminded me how good he is at basketball. Since I'm normally awash in a sea of football and college basketball writing in the fall and winter, I tend to focus on the Cavaliers, the Warriors, and ultra-competitive games. Since the Knicks are bad, I don't watch too many of their games.

Which is a shame, because Carmelo is excellent. He has an uber-reliable deep shot, an underrated mid-range game, and at 6-foor-8, 235 pounds, he's essentially LeBron's size, which makes stopping him once he gets a head of steam very, very tough.

He's been far and away Team USA's best player of the tournament, utilizing a really nice individual inside-out game.

Plus! In Team USA's win over Australia, he became the country's all-time leading scorer in Olympic play. All time! You know who else played for this team? LeBron James. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. SO MANY GOOD PLAYERS. And Carmelo is No. 1.

So when Carmelo decided to take his day off Tuesday and, instead of heading to the beaches or staying on the team's private cruise ship, head into Rio's favelas to play pickup basketball with a handful of children?

It was just icing on the cake -- or, cherry on the cake.

Check out Carmelo, dishing the ball off to kids about one-fifth his size. I love that so much.

Brazil's basketball team isn't much to watch this year. The Olympics themselves are distanced from the favelas, which means these kids won't see much of the actual competitions or the fully-branded fanfare.

But on Tuesday they got to see Carmelo Anthony, one of the best basketball players in the world, live and in-person, playing basketball on the same courts they'll use for the next week, month, and year -- maybe their entire lifetime.

If that isn't one of the coolest things to come out of the Olympics, I don't know is.

Viva la Carmelo.

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DeAndre Jordan Really Likes Olympic Gold Medals

More than an NBA Championship, though?

You can add DeAndre Jordan to the exclusive list of ring-less NBA players that think winning the a gold medal is better than winning an NBA Championship.

Jordan said that an Olympic gold medal is better than winning an NBA ring.

"I think they're above NBA rings," Jordan said.

Carmelo Anthony said recently that he has had a "good career" even if he never won an NBA title.

Jordan, like Anthony, has yet to win a championship in the NBA. In the eight seasons the center has been in the NBA, Jordan has yet to advance past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

But you know, Jordan makes a great point. How often do athletes get a chance to win a gold medal in the Olympics? He has an opportunity to win an NBA title every year. I'm sure fans will get behind Jordan's methodology...

Ooooor not.

Good points. While an Olympic medal is all cool and all, that's not why you became a professional basketball player. Maybe you idolized the 1992 Dream Team, but everybody on that team wanted to win an NBA title more.

It's a neat thing to look back in your career once it's done, but that Olympic medal will be an afterthought once the NBA season starts. Some of these guys will want to win some rings soon, just so that people will stop making jokes like this.