Back when the original Dream Team wore the uniforms Team USA donned today in Spain, opponents were so in awe of the American stars that some even snapped photographs from the bench.
Now 20 years later the same could not exactly be said of Luis Scola and the Argentinian national team, which dropped an 86-80 exhibition decision to the Americans on Sunday.
Scola drew a number of fouls taking it right at Team USA and even got into a bit of a scuffle in which he got right into the face of Kevin Durant and then pushed LeBron James’ arm away. This is not a player who will back down from anybody, even the best players in the world.
Scola’s crafty game was on full display, and it was beautiful to watch him work with long-time national teammate Manu Ginobili in the two-man game. He made a handful of gorgeous passes to cutters as well.
The newest member of the Suns scored 14 points, grabbed six boards and dished four assists to almost lead Argentina back after Team USA jumped out to a 19-3 advantage behind sizzling starts from KD and Kobe. But Argentina kept battling, cutting the lead to five late in the first half.
The American always had another run in them, taking the lead back to 15 early in the fourth only to see Argentina cut it to four on a Ginobili three-point play with less than three minutes left. Durant and Chris Paul promptly buried triples to put the game out of reach.
“I think we competed, pretty much the whole game,” Scola told The Associated Press. “We started bad, we’ve been starting bad this whole preparation. That’s going to be a problem for us. We have to fix that and then they hit a lot of shots. Obviously they’re capable of hitting shots.”
That they did, particularly Durant, who dropped 27 and barely seemed to hit the net. However, if today was any indication, the Americans won’t exactly romp through group play like the original Dream Team did with a rematch against Scola and the Argentinians looming on Aug. 6.
Simmons high on Scola acquisition
Grantland’s Bill Simmons for one saw value in the Suns’ pickup of Scola, calling him “the best amnesty guy ever, by far — nobody else comes close.”
I loved the Scola pickup — not only was he totally overqualified for an amnesty auction and landed in one for fluky reasons, you just shouldn’t be able to land a big man who can score on the low post for $13.4 million over three years. Cleveland fans should be outraged that their team didn’t trump that Phoenix bid. Repeat: outraged.
Simmons even praised owner Robert Sarver for his offseason maneuverings, something I can’t remember ever happening.
To Phoenix owner Robert Sarver, who earned a rare compliment by doing the right thing with Nash, landing two no. 1s and two no. 2s and a whopping trade exception to boot (VotS Editor’s Note: The Suns did not receive a trade exception since they were under the cap). From there, they smartly snared Dragic at a fair price; amnestied Josh Childress to create cap room for Scola (double amnesty!), made a respectable max contract run at Eric Gordon (and earned Gordon’s “my heart belongs in Phoenix” quote), and took an $18 million flyer on Michael Beasley (who gives them much-needed offensive punch AND good fodder for Jared Dudley’s Twitter feed). If you’re looking for 2013’s underdog that overachieves by 12 wins because of chemistry and quirky/savvy offensive players, look no further than the 2012-13 Suns.
Scola on playing in the Olympics
Houston Chronicle Rockets reporter Jonathan Feigen dug this gem out of his notebook from Scola on Olympic play:
“I really like it. I think it’s fun. I love my country. I love my teammates. I think it’s very high level competition in the FIBA tournaments. You play and work to play with the best, at a high level. Those are good tournaments. I think it helps me, especially before I came to the NBA. For me, I lose shape really quick and take a long time to get it. I like to keep playing. I don’t think working out is better than a FIBA tournament. That’s the highest level of working out. I think summer is about getting better. The last reason, I think the Olympics is a huge experience, beyond basketball, beyond sports. It’s cultural. Global. Everyone loves. I got a chance to watch it, and compete in it, to be a first-hand spectator of all these amazing sports. And I see not only the sports, but the life of the sports. That’s huge. People would pay thousands of dollars for this experience and I get to be a part of it. Even if we didn’t have success in the past, I think the experience would be quite the same. Just the life of the village is a highlight, besides the games and winning and all that.”
Tags: Luis Scola