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Should Team USA have eased up on Nigeria? Coach K says they did.

Aug 3, 2012, 1:42 AM EDT

Olympics Day 6 - Basketball Getty Images

Already up 57 points entering the fourth quarter Thursday, Team USA beat Nigeria 37-11 in the final frame. They were knocking down threes, creating turnovers and continuing to put up points.

When the historic beatdown had finished and the USA won by 83, some were calling it poor sportsmanship — they say the USA tried to humiliate Nigeria, that the USA kept pouring it on when they should have eased up.

I don’t buy it. This isn’t U8 soccer, mom isn’t passing out orange slices after the game and everybody doesn’t get a medal. This is where the big boys play.

USA coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t having any of it either, saying they tried to ease up. Here are his comments, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

“We didn’t play LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] in the second half, and with Carmelo shooting like that, we benched him,” Krzyzewski said. “We didn’t take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter, and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds, and the shots we took happened to be hit.

“I take offense to this question because there’s no way in the world that our program in the United States sets out to humiliate anyone.”

If this had been a Duke game, Krzyzewski would have sent in those guys at the end of the bench who are actually there for a Duke education. The drop off in talent from the starters to the end of the bench is pretty steep, as it is on pretty much every other team on the planet.

When Krzyzewski empties the Team USA bench it is Russell Westbrook and James Harden and Anthony Davis. The drop off is to All-Stars and the NCAA Player of the Year, all better than anyone on the Nigerian team. And this just happened to be one of those nights where all the USA players seemed hot — they shot 71 percent as a team.

No matter what Krzyzewski does, he can’t slow the engine down too much. Meanwhile Nigeria is turning the ball over and jacking up bad shots early in the clock, giving the USA easy chances.

This is the big time. There are no mercy rules because the Olympics are supposed to be the world’s best competing against each other. The fact that the USA’s best was that much better than Nigeria’s best on this day was unfortunate.

But humiliation? Poor sportsmanship? That’s not what the USA tried to do. They were just that good.

  1. lmvs2012 - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    U.s.a are just too good…mostly all of them are shooters in any spot…geeezzzz!

  2. camnellum12 - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    The only person that got humiliated in the game was James Harden. His ass got ROCKED!!!

  3. bleedburgandyandgold - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    Big boy sport if u can’t handle it u shouldn’t be playing it

  4. cpvptony - Aug 3, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    “If this had been a Duke game, Krzyzewski would have sent in those guys at the end of the bench who are actually there for a Duke education.”
    Really? At Duke? Guys go there just to play basketball?
    Don’t think so.

  5. camnellum12 - Aug 3, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Harden was the one who got embarrassed, he got the business:

  6. highlander24 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    If you have the ability to run up the score in front of the whole world, go ahead and run up the score.

  7. henchman24 - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    This “team” is horrendous. I’d rather see a team game by the best college players the USA has rather than a bunch of individual critters. What a joke.

    • mytthor - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      41 assists on 59 baskets. You’re the joke.

    • donrwells3 - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      “Individual critters” is pretty offensive. Are you comparing them to rodents or pests?

      That is pathetic. Nigeria had little to none (read; 0) perimeter defense against the absolute best shooters in the world. Why would they not shoot if they were wide open?

  8. doctorfootball - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    I would be very much in favor of returning to the days when only amateurs could play for the US. The problem is that all other countries were using professionals while the US was using college kids. Either all countries use amateurs or none do. You can’t have it both ways.

    • 1historian - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:22 AM

      The concept of ‘professional’ is different in other countries. E.G. – For years Russian players were considered to be ‘amateurs’ even though they were actually paid by the state to play, whereas to us the simple fact that you are paid to play makes you a professional. Such is not the case in many countries.

  9. londonaiooo - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    The Olympics is about the best competing with the best, no restrictions, so there should be no age limits or it goes against all the Olympics stands for. As for Nigeria, the British commentary team (incl John Amechi), spent more time describing how Nigeria embarrassed themselves with their effort rather than admonishing the US for not letting up. If Nigeria had played even a shred of defense then the US wouldn’t have had so many open shots and the record never would’ve happened.

  10. jh4prez - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:00 AM

    Good point doctor but its still just a game.i live watching all the best players on one team.its a two week long allstar game.

  11. BigBeachBall - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    and basketball used to be nigeria’s #1 sport…. how the mighty have fallen…

    • adzs - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:50 AM

      When was this??? I can’t ever imagine a day where Nigerians prioritise(d) any sport other than Football; They’re as fanatical as the Brazilians in that respect….

      • drunkenjunk - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM

        Nigerians watch the NFL?

      • adzs - Aug 3, 2012 at 5:22 PM

        Where i’m from (England/Europe/The world outside America) theres only one football…its easy sometimes to forget you guys call the sport something completely different and to address it as such, as it probably for you guys when abroad; Please accept my humble apologies for this offense 😦

  12. redblue560 - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Did not see the game. If they are that good, then, that is what it is. Winning is sweet but letting your opponent loose with dignity is a class act specially when they are not at your level of play and training.
    It is a very difficult balancing act that could be interpreted by your opponent as an insult by not playing at your best on purpose. The Nigerian basketball team are probably just as thrilled to have this once in a lifetime opportunity to compete against the NBA’s best even if they lost big. Give it a rest.

  13. philyeagles5 - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    you cant run up the score in bball. they have to shoot the ball like coach said.

  14. justwannawinna - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    Well the Olympic ppl should see and make it an amature event where pros aren’t allowed to play Cuz everyone knows the best basketball players in the world are in the US where basketball Is the major sport unlike everywhere else where its soccer, in order to make it fair for the rest of the world

    • southbeachtalent - Aug 3, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      So for the World Cup the rest of the world should play with amateur’s while we use our pro’s. Makes sense..

    • donrwells3 - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      We don’t complain when we lose soccer matches.

      Why are we talking about fair when it is a competition? If you lose, you lose. You were the inferior team. If we lost, we would be the inferior team.

      There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. Don’t dumb down sports because someone got their feelings hurt. It has nothing to do with emotion.

  15. addict2sport - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    Fair for the rest of the world? These are the Olympics. The world sends the best they have to offer in all sports. If you happen to set a record on the way to victory, so be it. It would have been a bigger insult to Nigeria if Team USA would’ve spent the fourth quarter dribbling out the shot clock and full-on tanking the rest of the game in effort to be “fair.”

  16. mj1818 - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Nigeria had some pros. Why should the players stop playing? They still had to shoot like coach k said. Just happened to make them.

  17. 1972wasalongtimeago - Aug 3, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Hakeen Olajuwon wasn’t walking through that door!

  18. papichulo55 - Aug 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    As punishment, the Olympic Committee should ask the USA Basketball Team to play the Gold Medal Hand Ball Team, in a game of handball. Must See TV!

    • donrwells3 - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      I’ve never heard of a punishment for being good at a sport.

    • protectthishouse54 - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      That would be fun to watch. Handball actually employs a lot of the same strategy and athleticism as basketball, just without the skills of shooting into a small, elevated basket. Give the US a few days to prepare, and it might be close.

      • southbeachtalent - Aug 4, 2012 at 12:14 AM

        Jake Plummer would be our secret weapon..

  19. ptestonm - Aug 3, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    henchman 24 must be one of the 36 fans of Nigerian basketball that live in the US. You mad bro?

  20. woodyqq2 - Aug 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    If you watched the game, you would understand what coach K was saying and how correct he was. I did see Westbrook miss a couple of shots. Maybe they should have just let him shoot? It was an AMAZING amount of talent that was amazingly hot. They basically let Nigeria shoot at will and they would still miss or turn the ball over and you guessed it. The USA team HAD to come down the court and shoot.

  21. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Yeah this whole concept is just silly. It’s not like the USA played a full-court press and made Nigeria turn the ball over. Whoever the “some” were calling it poor sportsmanship are simply looking for a story when there is nothing there. That’s just nonsense.

  22. lakerluver - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Should’ve beaten them by a 100. If they can’t compete maybe they shouldn’t play.

  23. phillyphan83 - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I want to see the first ever team to score 200!!! lets do it!!

  24. ajpurp - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    I agree with coach K completely in the fourth the USA let up but couldn’t help themselves. But Carmelo continually running up and shooting threes was a little wrong, even if he was hot and going for a record he didn’t have to keep jackin’ threes. Even Barkley thinks its deplorable, I wouldn’t go that far but it’s a little unsportsmanlike.

    • hannsta - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      Barkley is just jealous he wasnt that hot during the Olympics.

      • scalfor3 - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        barkley was the leading scorer on the fricken dream team. i dont think hes jealous of carmelo anthony hitting a bunch of threes against nigeria

      • hannsta - Aug 3, 2012 at 4:09 PM

        True he’s probably proud of hitting less points agianst worse teams.

    • donrwells3 - Aug 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      The biggest stage with the entire world watching…

      You are a star playing one of the most played games in the world, on the most popular team…

      You are hot and start hitting almost every three you throw up…

      You are close to a record breaking performance in front of dare I say, billions…

      What would you do? Not break the record because your opponent can’t stop you?


  25. woodyqq2 - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Put yourself in the players (Carmelo) shoes. A new record to be made. Now is it unsportsmanlike???? Big Mouth Barkley would do the same thing. Coach did his part, pulled him out and I’m sure with tongue in cheek.

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