Cliff Gardner

Monday, September 15, 2008

USA Basketball!

I really, really like Olympic basketball, and international hoops in general. So much so, in fact, that during the 2006 World Championships in Alaska, I stayed up until 5 AM watching the games live, and it was so brutal to watch Team USA go down in flames to a Bronze Age Civilization (Greece) running high screens that I screamed repeatedly and woke my whole family up. So, when the 2008 Olympics rolled around, I was more than a little excited about it and more than a little annoyed that no one in Ukraine seems to care about USA basketball. To their credit, sword fighting and Judo are more than adequately represented on Megasport, but for the life of me, I couldn't watch any of the games live like I could back home. If I were in America, I would have been able to watch us beat Lithuania, Argentina, Australia and China, but instead I just had to pace outside an Internet cafe waiting for it to open up so I could read the highlights on ESPN.

With the gold medal game looming, I decided to distract myself by going to a lake with a bunch of friends. However, when we got there, it started to rain--POUR, actually--and we ducked into a beer tent that miraculously had satellite TV. I was beside myself with joy while watching the first three quarters of the game, and also a little nervous that Spain was keeping it close. However, after the 3rd quarter ended, the Ukrainian men in the tent started to applaud--like they thought the game was over--and took the remote away from me. As I tried to explain that there was another quarter left and Team USA only had an 8-point lead, and THIS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT BASKETBALL GAME EVER, to my horror, they changed the channel so they could watch the Independence Day Parade in Kiev. Now, with the exception of cross-eyed children, there is nothing in the world I hate more than parades, and this didn't help. I sat there, seething, as they cheered the Ukrainian army marching down the center of Kiev, and as my friends--a group of 8 women who were honestly cheering for Spain for most of the game just to get a rise out of me, making them the least-appropriate people I could have possibly watched the game with--tried to get me to calm down. The parade ended 8 minutes later and I got to watch the end of the game, though, so it wasn't all bad. Bill Simmons wrote a column about it here:


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