As the son of a basketball nut I always watched the NBA show on Channel 4, played the NBA computer games on various consoles and owned a couple of Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls merchandised basketballs to use in my backgarden. My dad rigged up a homemade hoop straight out the middle of the garden at regulation height. At 6 years old making the ball reach anything near the net was a task in itself, as was avoiding splinters from the wooden base, and this is where my interest in the sport began.
With the Olympics approaching fast; tonight Team GB men’s basketball faces the biggest challenge in world basketball, Team USA. Team USA basketball may be the biggest collection of sporting superstars on the planet; with phenomenon’s such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and many more at their disposal. Despite the class of other teams, especially Spain, they will all struggle to prevent the States from living up to their number 1 world ranking.
It is a shame some marquee players such as Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and one man dunk-reel Blake Griffin have suffered injuries after a gruelling NBA season so therefore won’t be involved. As a silver lining it gives us a chance to see 19-year-old first round draft pick Anthony Davis in action.
Yet tonight a team who were only formed 6 years ago will face off against them with genuine conviction of turning some heads. Team GB have not had an easy journey, being written off for not possessing the adequate credentials to participate at their own games; so it is a sign of the real belief in the squad that they toiled their way from the bottom rung of European basketball; qualified for 2 consecutive Eurobaskets; and earned their place at the Olympic games in their own backyard.
Team GB go to the games wanting to do the country proud and with talent on offer in the form of Portland Trail Blazer Joel Freeland and Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls they are not intending on making up the numbers.
But the real task might be off the court. Basketball has never really taken off in the UK yet there are probably basketball courts within walking distance for most of us. It is a flair game; fast and energetic with a similar invasion tactic as football so should be a booming UK sport yet it hasn’t quite clicked. If GB can perform well and ruffle a few feathers it might be the catalyst for a few more kids to put down the football and pick up the basketball instead.
If there was ever a team to inspire this change however Team USA are IT so tonight make time to observe the best basketball team on the planet playing against our brave boys and be inspired by the sheer class, athleticism and entertainment on offer. No matter the result on the court, you could be witnessing the start of a British sporting revolution.
Can basketball become more popular in the UK? Will you be following the sport at the Olympics?
Team GB face Team USA tonight and it is broadcast live on BBC3 from 7pm.