Well, the Olympics are over. The Redeem Team redeemed themselves and brought home the gold medal, proving once again that USA Basketball is at the top of the basketball world. The final game against Spain had some anxious moments as the game was much closer than any other game they played in Beijing. Jason Kidd has never lost a game as a member of the US National team. He has won 56 games without a loss. Lisa Leslie has also never lost a game in her career as an Olympian, winning 4 gold medals on the way. It seems that the women's team, being dominant over the last 4 Olympics hasn't gotten much attention. I guess you have to stink and then become good to get the attention. It had to give every American goose bumps as Team USA locked arms and stepped onto the medal podium as one and then raised their arms in unison toward the American fans who had hung a U.S. flag over the railing in the upper deck. It warmed my heart as IO watched Carmelo Anthony wipe a tear from his right eye as he watched them raise the American flag above the court as the U.S. national anthem was played. Kobe Bryant sang along with the Star Spangled Banner while Lebron James stood stone-faced with his right hand on his heart. At that moment, I couldn't even dislike Kobe Bryant. He represented pride in country and a tremendous accomplishment for the USA. This morning he's back to being a hated Laker and Kobe and I still don't like him. But, that moment on the medal stand was bigger than any NBA rivalry or any player. Thank you Redeem Team for accomplishing your goal and for the commitment it took to bring home Gold for the USA!
With the Olympics behind them, these players have to contemplate the thought that training camp with their respective teams begins in less than a month. Jason Kidd may have retired from the Olympics with this medal, but he is looking forward to the final season on his contract with the Mavericks. He attempted only seven shots during the Olympics, making six, and he said he has been working hard on his shooting. He plans to take all the shots he passed up in the Olympics when he starts the season with the Mavs. Kidd also will be making a hand off of his gold medal. Kidd promised Elaine Wynn, wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn, that he would give her his newest Olympic medal if the Americans won gold. Last summer when Team USA was working toward their goal, they stayed at the Wynn in Vegas and Kidd and Mrs Wynn struck up a friendship. He made a deal with her, that if they won the gold medal, he'd give it to her because he felt that the way they treated the team at the Wynn, it was the least he could do.
Another point guard working on his shooting is the Celtics' own Rajon Rondo. Considering that fact that Rondo's shooting has improved every year he has played, I expect him to take another step forward and become a threat to score if left alone.
For a couple of NBA stars, the Olympics weren't quite as satisfying. Manu Ginobili missed several games in the playoffs because of a foot injury and his coach voiced his opinion that he preferred his star not play in the Olympics and with good reason. In the game against the USA, Ginobili went down, re-injuring the ligaments in his foot. He was unable to play as his team won the bronze-medal game against Lithuania. He plans to go directly to San Antonio for more tests on the strained ligament in his left foot. The Toronto Raptors' point guard, Jose Calderon, who plays for Spain,the gold medal game against the USA with a partially torn right adductor muscle. He expects to be healthy by the time the Raptors open training camp.
One Olympian who won't be getting right back to basketball is Carmelo Anthony. He plans to attend the Democratic convention, which is being held in Denver this coming week. Anthony supports Democratic candidate Barack Obama and hopes to meet him at the convention at Pepsi Center, where Anthony often is the star attraction. Could Melo become the next NBA star to enter politics in the mold of Bill Bradley?
With the addition of Mo Williams, the Cavs moved another step up in the Eastern Conference and will be an even bigger challenge for the Celtics. With the Pistons virtually standing pat this off season, the Cavs are in prime position to wrest the Central division crown from the Pistons. Word is that the Cavs are still in the market for another big. They could opt for playing their first round pick J.J. Hickson or they may bring in another big. They reportedly worked out veteran center Lorenzen Wright at their practice facility last week. They parted ways with former Celtics Dwayne Jones, who could have been that extra big. He has potential and is very strong around the basket, but hasn't been able to break out. Former Celtic and Cavalier Scot Pollard is available. Maybe they should give him a call. There have been rumors that the Cavs have been talking with New York about Zach Randolph. But, all it has been is talk so far. There are also rumors that the Cavs could use former Celtic Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract to bring in another top tier player at the trade deadline. They also still are saying they want Delonte back but so far haven't budged on giving him the contract he wants. The Cavs are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season and have to be one of the favorites to win it all.
And, not only have the Cavs moved closer to a title this season, but they have big plans for the summer of 2010. We have been reading stories all summer about the Nets, Knicks and every one else making moves with the express purpose of clearing cap space for the free agent crop that will be available in 2010 and making a run at trying to lure LeBron James away from the Cavaliers. The Cavs, however, have plans of their own and are looking to bring LeBron back and give him another superstar playmate on the team. The vision has LeBron staying with the Cavs and playing alongside Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Josh Howard., Amare Stoudamire, or any of the other big-name players who can become a free agent in the summer of 2010. The Cavs will be the only team positioned to sign two superstars in 2010. They are the only team with a superstar already in tow and the cap room to sign another. The Cavs will have almost $30 million in cap space counting LeBron's salary and will be poised to bring in the star of their choice who should jump at the chance to play with King James. Beware of the Cavs....
Along with the stories about Marbury being bought out by the Knicks, there is another story emerging concerning the controversial guard. You have to hand it to Marbury for his Starbury shoe line that made low cost, decent quality athletic shoes available to everyone. Now, the company who was marketing them has gone bankrupt. Marbury is claiming that the bankrupt Steve & Barry's owes him $2 million. S&B Holdings won a bid to purchase the company for $168 million in an auction last month. Under the bankruptcy proceedings, the new company would not be liable for the $2.19 million in royalties that Marbury claims Steve & Barry's never paid so he may be out a bundle on his shoe line along with being out of a job.