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Dunk 'em if you can

Listen here I am all for the respectful exchange of cultural ideals and traditions, but lets get one thing straight: if you can slam dunk, to heck with being humble and gentlemanly I want to see Vinsanity Jumps Over Tall Foreigner version 2.0. Remember that? It was the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and some poor schmuck from France (72 center Fr_ric Weis) was shuffling around just outside the paint when then Toronto Rapter Vince Carter was cleared for take-off. He gathered the ball and jumped so high that by the time Weis realized what was happening, he had to duck slightly as Carter soared over his head and stuffed home a dunk that essentially immortalized him among the all-time greats. Now, times have changed. The rest of the world has caught up to the U.S.A. The NBA All-Star teams are rich with names like Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobli. Yao Ming might be the most recognizable ball player in the world. The days of the Dream Team providing Harlem Globe Trotter-type entertainment are over. After taking a disappointing bronze at Athens 2004, this squad of American hoopsters has taken on the moniker Redeem Teem as it seeks gold in Bejing. They feel humiliated. They feel like they have something to prove. The rest of the world knows this, so why did some snot-nosed reporter suggest that the Americans were showing off in their opening game against China? I counted more than 20 dunks, he told Coach Mike Krzyzewski, do you feel they were showing off? Are you kidding me? What were they supposed to do, stop short on a breakaway and loft a puny little jump shot? Hit the fast break and lay it in gently off the backboard? Absolutely not, my friends. Save the humbleness for the post-game interview. I want to see slam-dunks. 360-windmill-between the legs-dont you dare try and tell me the U.S. basketball team has gone soft because I will tear the rim off of this international-sized hoop and then eat it as a snack in front of these record crowds who came here because they want to see me D-U-N-K. Maybe there is a cultural barrier here that Im not understanding. But unless Im remembering the last four years incorrectly, I recall that everyone was having a blast dissing the mens team even American citizens. To somehow expect them to return to glory in a non-show-offy way seems a little contradictory to me. Besides, were all cheering on Michael Phelps to win not just one gold metal, but eight. Im not saying that Phelps is a show-off here, Im just saying that we are proud of his expected dominance, so if the U.S. team wants to dunk on its way to a single gold medal, cut them some slack. There was no showing off, Coach K. told the reporter. I dont know what your definition is of showing off. Maybe its a language thing. Thats hard basketball... Dont confuse hard with show off. Indeed. And China had three seven-footers on the floor, two of whom play in the NBA. We should be talking about how they couldnt stop the U.S. from dunking. Greater challenges lie ahead for the U.S., as Russia, Argentina, Spain and Germany all field excellent squads hell-bent on eliminating America from the tournament. So I say keep the dunks coming, and remember, if Vince could clear Wies, just think what Kobe could do with Nowitzki. Hes two inches shorter. Chris Morris is the news editor at Denton Publications. He can be reached at chrism@denpubs.com

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