You’ve already seen our favorite memories from Olympiads past. Or if you haven’t, you’re going to now. And if you still don’t, I have some friends in the Chinese government that will try to arrange things so you are more properly educated.
This year’s Olympics also provided us with a cornucopia of sporting memories, most of which I haven’t bothered writing about until now. Because, uh, I needed the Games to come to an end to have the proper amount of perspective. Plus, I know if there’s one thing you’re starving for right now, it’s more Olympic coverage.
Usain in the Membrane
Untold amounts of ink, film and digital material have already been spent chronicling the exploits of Michael Phelps. And from what the ladies tell me, he’d probably be able to add about half of the 10,000 condoms provided in the Olympic Village to that list if he was so inclined.
While I’m certainly impressed by Phelps’ record showing of eight golds, the performance that actually stuck with me the most in these Games was that of Usain Bolt. What Phelps achieved was some sort of Paul Bunyan-like tale, but what Bolt accomplished was more along the lines of Superman.
Setting the world record in the 100 meters without actually running the final 20? Breaking Michael Johnson’s seemingly insurmountable 200 record in the same Games? And then for the hell of it, setting another record as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team.
Some think that Bolt is a little too cocky, but if you haven’t noticed, he’s also way better than everyone else. He could probably skip during the final 50 meters of a race and still win. In fact, I think he should try it in London. He’s already made track & field respectable again — might as well take the celebration to the next level.
Redeem Team, Indeed
This year’s U.S. men’s basketball team did more than reaffirm its place atop the world roundball order. It also made me come precariously close to liking two people who I have long despised: Kobe Bryant and Coach K.
I’ve pretty much hated Kobe from the get-go because people compared him to Michael Jordan. He didn’t help his cause any by always seeming like a surly, whiny bitch; although that probably just comes with the territory when you live in Los Angeles. All I know is that I would gladly be Shaq’s spinmaster for any new raps dissing Kobe. Or at least that was the case in the past.
I’ve gained a lot of respect for Kobe in the past year, and his performance in the Gold Medal Game went a long way in affirming that. With Spain giving the U.S. a major run for its money late in the second half, it was Kobe who took over more than anyone else in a cast of stars.
If you ever need a writer to come up with sick burns to make fun of Shaq for the movie Kazaam, I’ll be here for you, Kobe.
Coach K deserves credit for turning the group of superstars into a team — seeing everyone place their medals around his neck was awesome, no matter how much I hate Duke. (Though perhaps team architect Jerry Colangelo is the one who did the most in making sure the right mix of players were on the squad).
As fun as this team was to watch, let’s still not mistake them for being better than the original Dream Team. Yes, the world competition is much stronger now than in 1992. But I don’t see anyone handing out sweet jackets in cereal boxes that I can wear years from now.
The best story of the Games
It’s hard to put a positive spin on a senseless murder. But the way the U.S. men’s volleyball team performed in the wake of the killing of coach Hugh McCutcheon’s father-in-law by a Beijing lunatic was truly inspiring.
McCutcheon wasn’t even at the team’s first three matches because he had to be with his family, including his wounded mother-in-law. But the Americans still won without their leader. And once he came back, he somehow found the ability to focus on volleyball, leading the U.S. to its first gold medal since 1988 after a convincing upset of Brazil in the championship match.
Certainly, returning back home will open up a new wave of emotions for McCutcheon and his family. But one of them should be joy — if there was ever a team that deserved a parade through New York’s Canyon of Heroes, it’s this one.
In other volleyball action…
With 108 straight wins, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have cemented themselves as one of the the best tandems in the history of anything, right up there with Hall & Oates, Seals & Crofts and Tango & Cash.
However, just because they are awesome and highly attractive doesn’t mean there isn’t a bizarre sidebar to their story.
As was mentioned by broadcasters in a few different matches, May-Treanor has a tattoo of the Roman numeral V on her lower back (known colloquially in my circles as a “Cum-Shot Tattoo” and in others as a “Tramp Stamp”) as a tribute to Jason Kidd, her favorite athlete growing up.
Now I’m not one to judge a girl by what she puts on her back. However, if I was her husband, Florida Marlins catcher Matt Treanor, I might be a little disturbed by the fact my wife has a tribute to one of my peers in the sporting world that occasionally stares me straight in the face during business time. Especially when that peer is way better at his sport than I am at mine.
That said, I would marry any chick with a Bernie Kosar CST on the spot.
Hungary: Like the Wolf
Last week, we gave props to the U.S. women’s basketball team for their complete dominance on the world stage. Really, I hear that they are fundamentally sound and play the game the right way.
However, one team that rivals the lady basketballers in the dominance department is the Hungary men’s water polo team, which won its third-straight gold medal by beating the upstart U.S. squad.
Seriously, water polo is so huge in Hungary that they have Wikipedia pages on 58 different players. So a 14-10 loss in the title game by an American team that had its funding severely slashed before the Games looks quite respectable.
Is there a market for interpretive dancers outside of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Olympic Games, or do they only get work every couple years?
Exploding stadium photo at top courtesy of Sports Illustrated.