This has been a rough few days for USA basketball. After shockingly losing their first exhibition game to Nigeria, the Americans doubled down and lost last night again, this time to Australia. For a team that is so used to winning and dominating their opponents with ease, this has been a real punch to the gut. Considering they lost three total exhibition games since 1992, these two defeats have been a complete shock for the players and the whole basketball world.
One of the most sound reactions came from who else than the infamous ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, who in his style, went at the USA Team alongside disrespecting the Nigerians after their first loss.
“There’s no excuse to lose to Nigeria… [To lose to] some dude Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent and plays for the Miami Heat. Or Caleb Agada. Or Nma… however the hell you pronounce his name. You give up 60 points on 3’s? Excuse me, you can do better than that.”Steven A Smith, ESPN
That would cause a flurry of backlash and criticism towards Smith, especially from the Nigerians who felt disrespected and attacked because so many people don’t want to give them any credit for the big win. The Nigerian basketball federation and their players Josh Okogie and Jordan Nwora would respond on Twitter:
It was not the best day at the office for Stephen A., who managed to anger a big group of people. Eventually, Smith would have to react and respond to the backlash, apologizing for his words:
This isn’t the first time Smith has offended someone with his intense and rugged takes – that is the way he operates and does his job. After all, that Stephen A.’s trademark made him famous in the world of sports analysts. But sometimes, he needs to know when to tone it down and give credit where credit is due.
As far as the USA basketball team goes, this will hopefully serve as a real wake-up call. They are not untouchable or unbeatable. The rest of the world has gotten better and is looking to take that gold. The fact middle-of-the-pack teams like Nigeria and Australia managed to beat them should raise the call for concern, as teams like Spain and France will be an even more challenging task. It looks like the Americans will have a tough time fighting for the gold medal for the first time in a long time.
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