It was 20 years ago today.
Barcelona, Aug. 8, 1992. The real Dream Team — heck, the ONLY Dream Team — won an Olympic gold medal that day, beating Croatia.
I was there that day, it was extremely cool. Of course, we didn’t do in-game blogs back then and I don’t even think Al Gore had invented the internet yet.
So we’ll do it now; stick with us for The Longest In-Game Blog Thing Ever. Or Doug’s Diary Of A Day.
Fifty four minutes to the first tip, ran into a group of six Lithuanians on the concourse here at the North Greenwich Arena (it’s actually the O2, same place the Raptors played the Nets, but there shall be no sponsorship of Olympic venues) and, shockingly, they were waving the flag.
There are no basketball fans anywhere on Earth as passionate as the Lithuanians. They turn out in droves everywhere, every time and have a ball. They sing, whistle, cheer and are just great.
Screaming PA announcer begins his schtick. It’s like an NBA game on amphetamines. He and I are going to have issues if he doesn’t shut up.
Russia-Lithuania on the court to warm up for Game 1.
Not sure, but I think I saw a Russian mouth: “We own you.”
About two decades ago, they did. Literally.
Exuberant flag-waving Russians down and to my right. Best part about the Olympics, or the worlds, is the fans.
The Russian coaches are wearing jeans. Somewhere, Sam Mitchell is angry about that.
And here we go, first of four for the day and they should all be doozies. With great geographical rivalries: Russia-Lithuania, Spain-France, Brazil-Argentina and USA-Australia. Well, not so much the last one but you get my drift.
Best chant in basketball, even better then O-K-C is
I (heart) Lithuanian fans.
Jonas Valanciunas, surprise starter, get a rebound. Somewhere Dwane Casey is happy and somewhere Andrea Bargnani’s thinking, “Sweet. I won’t have to.”
Timofey Mozgov pushes Valanciunas aside with ease for a put back. Somewhere Dwane Casey is thinking, we’ve got to get that kid into a weight room.
Russia coach David Blatt never sits down and he’s wearing a golf shirt that has been described thusly by the great Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press in a tweet:
“Russian coaches sporting new shirts for the quarterfinals. Can’t quite describe them, but they’re not attractive.”
One and a half quarters done, 14 and a half to go in my day. Thankfully, these should be good games; if I had to sit through back-to-back-to-back-to-back NBA regular season games on any one day, I might stick a pin in my eye.
But there’s something about quarter-finals day at a worlds or an Olympics. Everything’s on the line, first knockout day of the tournament and emotions are cranked up. Can’t wait for the first pushing match or quasi-fight, I know it’s coming.
I’ve got third quarter of this game.
A timeout and the doofus with the mic is back. Interviewing random fans. The NBA influence is everywhere in this game and it’s not always a good thing. And these people here take it a whole other level. This might end up being a tremendously long day trying to do something we’ve never done before here.
First half of first game over: Russia 32, Lithuania 27 and if the Lietuvas had a point guard, they’d be way better.
First meal of the day here, a free-range egg mayonnaise and spinach purchased for a mere 5 pounds in the press room lounge. But our seats are right in the stands and I’m betting there’s some cool stuff in the concessions on the concourse.
Six Russians in front of me and to the right are going berserk. They’re in the Olympic Family seats so I presume they’re not journalists. But you never know.
NBA exec to me as Lithuania uses Kleiza at the four and are getting hammered:
“This going small thing is really working out well, huh.”
Oh and Valanciunas is finally back after playing just six minutes in the first quarter. Lithuanian tweeter quite put out:
“If only Lithuania had a young athletic big who could bring some energy to the court. Wait, what?”
Lithuania’s Martynas Pocius just took a dive that would have made Reggie Evans proud. Basketball is basketball all over the world.
Check that, considering where we are:
Lithuania’s Martynas Pocius just took a dive that would have made Vlade Divac proud. Basketball is basketball all over the world.
The free range egg mayonnaise and spinach sandwich was passable at best; off to concessions for next meal for sure. There have to be fish and chips, right?
Valanciunas tweaks ankle, somewhere in here Bryan Colangelo grows worried. Don’t think it’ll matter, Lithuania doesn’t look like Lithuania, down nine with five minutes left and can’t see a comeback.
Which, as we know, means there’ll be a comeback.
Russian fan in front of me quite perturbed by one call. I waiting for him to take off a shoe and hammered on my table.
Valanciunas back in the game, Colangelo resumes breathing.
Late yesterday when I came up with this crackpot idea, it sounded great; one game just about done, three more covering about seven hours might be a bit much.
Stick with me, okay?
First Lithuania journalist hammers table next to his computer. Told you they all take the game seriously; and this will be a bitter loss to Russia. Andrei Kirilenko just made a three-point play, he’s got 17 points and the folks in Minnesota who gave him a two-year deal worth $20 million might be happy.
Of course, they’d be happier if Ricky Rubio hadn’t blown out a knee.
Russia 83, Lithuania 74
We’re a quarter of the way through the day. Spain and France next could be a doozy. I have to find Garbo, I hear he’s here somewhere and he’s my boy.
… to be continued